The Secret of the Witch

The Secret of the Witch

Author: Lady Lira

Keeping something a secret is sometimes one of the hardest things a person might have to do, especially if it’s a really big, juicy, important secret.

Like being a witch.

It’s tough to hide part of who you are, but the fact is large sums of pagans out there have to do it every day. Perhaps your co-worker is a Druid, or your classmate is a Wiccan. Maybe your Aunt Marge is a Hedge Witch, or that stranger walking down the street is a Shaman. You may never know it, even when they’re staring you right in the face…all because they keep it a secret.

I, like most pagans, have to live with the secret that I am studying the Magickal Arts. My mom is aware that I’ve dabbled in a bit of Wicca, and goddess bless her open-minded soul, but it’s not a topic that I’m too eager to bring up at dinner-time, since she’s not too fond of religious discussions. But except for her, I keep my secret hidden from the rest of the world, afraid that I’ll be beaten down for my ‘offbeat’ interests.

I was raised Christian, since the majority of the family followed that faith though it wasn’t long before I (and my mother) began to fade away from the church (I was probably about eleven at the time) . Eventually we became agnostic, though it took a while before the guilt of not believing in the Bible eased up. I found myself feeling lost and confused with no solid beliefs, and often wondered about those heavy universal questions: “How?” and “Why?”

I was so frustrated with the world, and I couldn’t seem to sort out what was truth and what was just a bunch of woven lies.

Growing up, even in a Christian family, I had always adored magic (k) and fantasy. I was always the kid who wanted to believe in something a little longer than she should, like Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. I was the avid Harry Potter Fan, even though my grandma looked down begrudgingly on its witchly contents. In my heart, I knew it was all real to some degree. It HAD to be real…the magic (k) , the wonder, the dreams of a young child. Because if it wasn’t…then I would have lost a part of my soul.

It wasn’t until a year and a half ago that I came across the workings of real Witchcraft. A good online friend admitted to me the experiences she went through as a young teen Wiccan- the fun and wonder it brought her, but also the terrible mockery and discrimination she faced.

That night I decided to Google ‘Wicca’ and ‘Witchcraft’ and I found pages and pages of beliefs and a wealth of information. Wicca and all its forms (from Fae and Draconic to Gardnerian and Alexandrian and all the versions in between) , Druidry, Shamanism, Dianic, Minoan, Eclectic… the list went on forever! I couldn’t believe it! All these different religions, and they all practice magick? Real, actual magick? Plus they tied in with my growing love of ancient mythology!

I was enthralled, intrigued, and deliriously delighted beyond my wildest and craziest dreams. I had stumbled upon the secret, the part of myself that I would mask from my friends and classmates. I’d discovered the occult arts, “The knowledge of the hidden, ” as it translates. I was back on the path to spiritual enlightenment, and very excited (Well, it was more like I was wandering through the woods, edging clumsily toward the path) . I looked into Wicca more closely, and found was one of the closest religions I had found yet that complimented my personality. I’ve been on and off then on again in my study, learning what I can, when I can, always tempted by the oh-so-fascinating and mysterious subject.

My Wondrous Path So Far: I keep a tiny composition notebook wrapped in rustic brown paper that serves as an inconspicuous Book of Shadows, and any form of an altar is yet to be set up. I’m still trying to discover what Gods and Goddesses I will follow, but that is all part of my journey in finding my path and myself. As far as any books involving Wicca or Witchcraft… they are allowed to rest freely on my rickety wooden shelf, except when company stops by for an over-night visit. Sometimes I feel more comfortable hiding them away under the bed or a crummy sofa cushion just to avoid any awkward questions.

It’s not something I want to hide, the fact that I started studying witchcraft, but I feel its necessary in my time and place, at least for now. I’m dominated by a school world ruled by the concept of Bully vs. Victim, a hub where even the slightly weird, unique, or unordinary are picked on and laughed at.

It can be like that even in the adult world, which leads to the main reason why so many prefer to study in secret rather than express themselves out in the open: It’s the fear of not being accepted, or being “disowned” by your extra faithful Christian family. It’s the the worry that maybe your friends will give you a funny look or your boyfriend will call you crazy. No one wants to feel ashamed or un-liked, so in many cases, it is easer to simply keep silent.

I congratulate those who are brave enough to proclaim their faith, and I remind those of you who have open-minded and accepting friends, family, or coven members that you are very fortunate. I end here by saying that though it may be a secret now, it is also one of the greatest gifts. Perhaps one day soon I will able to feel more comfortable and open about discussing my ambitious pursuit of magickal knowledge.

As I continue to learn and explore the Craft, I continue to grow as a person…

And I continue to hold the secret of the witch.

Responsible Witch

Responsible Witch

Author: Donna Caldwell aka Scarlette Winter Rose

What is a witch? Is it, as by common definition, a sorceress, a person bent on evil doings, who casts spells and worships the devil? Is it someone to fear and therefore ostracize, imprison and execute? My answer to these questions is both yes, and no.

Why am I qualified to answer these questions? Because I am a witch, and have been all of my life.

So let’s get those questions answered.

First, a witch is many things. She, or he, as men are witches too, may or may not be a sorceress. Some witches practice no spell craft, but choose only to focus on the worship of nature, and the Goddess and God, providers of all that we are blessed with on this earth.

There are those like myself, who practice sorcery, or magick. And you will find that among witches, those terms, along with numerous others, intertwine for many, while some insist that the term sorcery only applies to black magic. I do not agree, because to me there is no “black” or “white” magick. There is only magick, and it is the intent of the practitioner that determines the direction of the energy used.

When one decides to follow the path of the witch, they are making a commitment that holds many responsibilities, and will find that there is much to learn before any actual casting of spells should be approached.

To quote High Priestess Ly de Angeles, from her book “Witchcraft Theory and Practice”, “Once initiation has occurred, there is no turning back…you will quest all of your life; it is not a thing to do thoughtlessly.”

This is, in part, because our spiritual path, unlike others, states that we are immediately responsible for all of our actions and the results that follow. We cannot lay blame elsewhere for our harmful deeds, whether toward ourselves or to others.

Witches do not believe in the devil, so the idea of our worshipping one is meaningless. If we have acted in a baneful manner, we will not be judged after our body dies, before a single god, but will reap the sowing of our intent while in the present life, and sometimes beyond it, in accordance to the laws of the universe.

This is known among witches as the Threefold Law. It states that any one baneful act by a witch shall be returned upon them three times.

Some, myself included, do not hold strictly to the Threefold Law, but believe that negative use of witchcraft returns upon those liable however many times the universe deems necessary, in order to teach that which must be taught to the practitioner. Think of the old saying “What goes around comes around.”

So witches do have rules? Hell yes!

We abide by that which is known as the Wiccan Rede, a hefty list of guidelines. The most basic and important of these is “And it harm none, do what thou wilt.” Now, just what does that mean?

It means a lot.

We must take care with everything and everyone on this earth, be it the people, the animals, nature, and the planet itself. All is a gift from the Goddess. We must not lie, steal, cheat, or raise war, either with nations, or other people who would condemn us for our beliefs because they differ from their own.

We must work magick responsibly. This means we must prepare for ritual with great thought and patience, being precise, and making sure our efforts do not impose upon another’s will, as that would be baneful.

We must not use mind-altering drugs of any kind before or during ritual. To do so would be against the Rede, as we could bring harm to others and ourselves due to our lack of clear focus.

There are strict rules for summoning energies or “watchtowers”, as we in the Craft refer to them. They are called upon to join and assist in ritual, and must be dismissed at the ritual’s end, in a certain way. Failing to do this can, and most often does, result in negative occurrences long after the ritual is over and those in the circle have gone merrily on their way.

Being in a drugged state would leave those practicing within the ritual circle completely vulnerable to the energies and spirits that have been summoned. To perform spell work correctly, successfully and safely, one must have complete control over their faculties.

Now, how about our reputation?

It has taken hundreds of years for witches to partially recover from the labels placed upon us, and whether we like it or not, our chosen path is one which is looked at by others who still hold to the opinion that we are not following a true spiritual path, but one of pure evil. We must show them differently.

We must act responsibly, respectfully, and never fall into the trap of believing that we are “right” and others “wrong” in their differing beliefs.

We must not boast of powers, or play upon another’s fear of us, thus falling prey to the ego and thereby promoting our own demise, either through personal fault, or by those who would seek to destroy us.

As for that last question, I think I’ll let you, the reader, decide. You have heard from me, a practicing witch, concerning some or our basic beliefs and ways in which we live our lives.

So, what do you think? Should I be feared? Ostracized and imprisoned? Executed?

Some would still answer, “Yes.” My neighbor is one. She has stated on more than one occasion that anyone who practices witchcraft, or her idea of witchcraft, should, in fact, be burned at the stake, twenty – first century or not. With the giant wooden cross she has erected in her front yard, I guess she is preparing for her own ritual….

There will probably always be those who will hate us, out of ignorance and fear. Or perhaps just because we have the courage some of them lack, to follow our own path rather than go along with what is most acceptable in society for the sake of fitting in.

As for myself, I shall continue on the journey my Goddess has provided me, and I shall remain a responsible witch.

How to Choose A Good Magickal Name

How to Choose A Good Magickal Name

Author: Bronwen Forbes

There’s a standard joke in the Pagan community that, at a gathering, if the loudspeaker were to announce, “Will Raven, Morgan, and Rhiannon please come to registration?” half the attendees would show up, and that the Ravens at least would be split pretty evenly between males and females.

Like most good jokes, it has a lot of truth in it.

So rule number one of how *not* to choose a good magickal name is: pick one that’s already been used to death.

Rule number two of how not to choose a good magickal name: pick one that’s unpronounceable. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times people with magickal names like Aistiranpaistinfionncoinini have gotten really annoyed with me because I can’t pronounce their name. If you must*have a name longer than ten letters, do your friends, fellow coveners and community a favor and allow us to use a nickname. “Aistir” would work for my example. It means, “star” in Irish Gaelic.

Now that you know what not to do when picking a magickal name for yourself, what doyou do?

First, decide whether or not you really need one, or if your legal first name will work just fine. Back in the 1980s (when I first realized I was Pagan) , most of us had a special name we used in the community. Even though we were on the cusp of the 21st century, we still felt the need to hide our legal identity in order to protect our jobs and our children.

If you have a career, a potential career (if you’re still in school) , children that might be in danger because of where you live or who you’re divorcing, or a work situation that could be jeopardized if people outside the community knew you were Pagan, you might want a magickal name for public community use.

Also, many groups and traditions only use their magickal names when they’re in ritual – it’s another way to move them into ritual space, just like putting on robes and lighting the candles do. For these folks, the privilege of knowing and using their ritual name indicates that you are “family” to them. The rest of the Pagan community calls them Lynn or Bob, i.e. their legal names.

If you still decide you want a magickal name, it’s best to pick one that a) tells the Pagan world something about you, b) is a reflection of your path, or c) invokes something into you that you feel you lack. A really good magickal name will fill all three criteria.

Let me explain. When I joined my first coven, I was required (as were all members) to choose a name from Tolkien’s made-up Elvish language. I was a theater major at the time, and was intrigued by the comedy-tragedy masks that not only summed up the human condition, but also in the balance implied by the smiling face and the sorrowful face. After some reflection, I chose Nienor Lailaith, which, loosely translated, means “sorrow joy.”

I was called “Nienor” in the community for roughly my first year. It definitely told the Pagan world that theater was sacred to me, which was something I wanted everyone to know. The coven I was in used a lot of symbolism from Tolkien’s works, and when I met people and used my Elvish name, there was no question in their minds what coven I was in and what path I was on.

Finally, I was twenty-two years old. “Balance” was not in my vocabulary – but I knew it needed to be. I remember thinking that maybe a nice, balanced name like “sorrow joy” would help me learn how to better juggle my schoolwork, home life, and coven responsibilities. As magickal names go, Nienor Lailaith was a pretty good one.

So in case you’ve accidentally or deliberately misplaced your copy of The Silmarillion, how do you pick a good magickal name?

Here’s what I did when it was time to retire Nienor and find something else. I took a piece of paper and a pen and started writing down every word or name that I liked from my favorite books — fiction and non-fiction — my favorite movies, mythology – Greek, Roman, Celtic, Slavic, Norse, plus plant and tree identification books, baby name books (they’re not known for historical accuracy, but they do have some names you might not otherwise think of) , animals I particularly liked, zodiac correspondences, birds, history… every source I could think of until I had a list of about thirty names.

I then started to cross off the ones I liked the least until I had two left. One, not surprisingly, was Bronwen. I liked the sound. I liked the spelling – there are several ways to spell “Bronwen, ” more if you want it to look exotic. I played around with what little I know about numerology and discovered that Bronwen spelled with an “o” and an “e” (as opposed to, say, “Branwyn” or “Bronwinn”) was a one, a number that balanced my birth number very nicely. So, Bronwen it was.

(On a side note, I legally changed my first and middle names in 1994. “Bronwen” is now my middle name. You don’t have to go as far as legally changing your name. In fact, considering all the expense and annoyance of changing all one’s legal documents, including driver’s license, social security card, medical insurances cards, etc. I strongly recommend you have at least one major compelling reason to do so. It’s really a pain to do!)

Whatever you do, don’t use one of those Pagan name generators on the Internet. They’re a joke. They’re meant to be funny. They are not for real! You’d think everyone would know that, but I’ve run into about one too many “Lavender Mermaid of the Sand” who got her “special” name from one of those sites and took it seriously. In fact, I just now played with the Pagan name generator and got Ariadne Bard Dragonfly.

Hmm. I think I’ll stick with Bronwen, thanks. But if Ariadne Bard Dragonfly works for you, feel free to take it!

Children Touched By God/dess

Children Touched By God/dess

Author: Celeste

My little sister, Jennasea, leans against a tree, admiring the leaves. The sun filtering through the branches sends splotches of light drifting across her 7-year-old cheeks. It was Earth Day, and she had just finished making faery houses out of moss and dragging me in to the forest to see them. I had admired them and together we set offerings for the faeries: bread with butter and sugar.

We were just finished offering the food when Jennasea looks at me with dancing eyes and says, “Can we do a ritual spell to heal the earth?”

Thinking how cute it was for her to ask, I consented. I had not done with a ritual with her in a couple years, on request and behalf of my parents. We all believed that Jennasea should wait until she was older before she chose her religion. Until then, we wanted to educate in all manners of belief so she wouldn’t be ignorant.

But today I thought, why not? She loves rituals, or at least she used to, and I hadn’t done one with her in so long.

If I left out the amazing part, the ritual would sound fairly generic. We cast the circle, called the Watchtowers and the Goddess and the God, did some energy raising, and pressed out hands to the earth while visualizing the whole earth being healed. After that we opened the circle and grounded. But if I went with the boring example, this would be a useless article.

What was the amazing part, you ask?

While we did the ritual, my little sister said the exact same words as me, at the exact same time I said them. She knew ritual structure and how to visualize, and she could feel the energy pulsing through her as she thought about the earth being healed.

Now, you might rationalize this, saying she has a good memory. But I haven’t done a ritual with her since she was 4, and since then my method of casting a circle have changed.

That night, when I was putting her to bed for my mom, I asked her how she did that. She got all uncomfortable and squirmy, giggling and saying, “I don’t know. I just have a good memory, I guess…”

Was it that infamous childish intuition that we are taught to ignore as we grow up? Has she somehow been teaching herself Wicca, even though she can’t read quite that well yet? Or is her “good memory” her memory from a past life, perhaps in the 60s, 70s, and 80s when Wicca and Witchcraft was booming?

Whatever it is, I was amazed. And it got me thinking of other times I’ve seen children doing or saying incredible things; things that they shouldn’t know yet. Mature things you would most expect from an experienced old person.

I work at a daycare/preschool at the local Christian Community Church, so I get to spend a few hours a day after school observing and playing with little kids ages 1 to 5. (This is off-topic, but working at a preschool is a wonderful way to bring out your inner child. It’s rather euphoric.) I’ve observed many of the children displaying an incredible intuition that I haven’t often seen in adults and teenagers.

One day when I was having a very bad day, I arrived at the preschool after school. One of the little girls, Page, ran up to me and gave me a big hug. When I returned the hug, she looked me in the eye and said, “If you feel bad, you should ask the lady in the earth for help.”

The lady in the earth?

I asked Page who she meant, at which point she got all wiggly and giggly. “You knowww…the lady! The one with the pretty robe. That Mary person.”

And yet another day, I was playing in the sandbox with several of the children, including a little boy named Payton. He was making some kind of mound, with a moat-like ditch around it.

When I asked him what he was making, he replied, “It’s Jesus’ home.”

He pointed to the little sticks coming out the mound. “That’s us. All the people on earth live with him.”

I asked Payton where he lived. Like the other kids, he got wiggly and giggly, pointed to the ground and the sky, and said, “Here and here and here and here…everywhere, but nowhere!” At which point he resumed playing.

Those are just a couple examples of things the children I’ve played with have said. But regardless of what they say and do, I’ve seen the remarkable minds these children, and all children, display.

Are these children I’ve met that do those kinds of things touched by God/dess? Or is it that wonderful intuition we are all taught to ignore as we grow in to adults?

I think it’s both.

Everyone are touched by God/dess, because we all have God/dess inside of us. But children are more…how should I say this? Attentive to the God/dess inside and around them. They feel the touch of God/dess all the time, and know how to understand it.

All of us have this potential, this intuition, inside of us, but we are taught to ignore it. So…what if we could get this intuition back? Think of the things that would be discovered, the happiness there would be! When I picture that intuition returning to us, I picture happy, optimistic lives full of positive potential.

But how do we get it back?

Well…I should think it’s obvious:

Became a child again. Once more get in tune with that child sleeping inside of you. Play on a playground, build things with blocks, do connect-the-dots, color in coloring books…do everything you liked to do as a child.

And in terms of magick and ritual, I have read in almost every book on magick that adding childish play in to the spell, or before the spell, enhances the results because you temporarily transport yourself back to that state of innocence and simplicity.

I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon than playing with blocks, sitting in the sandbox, and climbing trees.

We don’t stop playing because we grow old: we grow old because we stop playing.” —-Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Blessed Be, potential children.

Today’s I Ching Hexagram for 4/8

Today’s I Ching Hexagram for Everyone:

7: Discipline

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Hexagram 7

General Meaning: The most successful general is not the one that triumphs in battle, but the one who is able, through strength of a resolute discipline and the personal power that results from that, to achieve victory without spilling blood. This is why for the effective leadership of any organization the key virtues are clarity, decisiveness and conscientiousness. The most effective team or partnership marches with a single purpose — a dedication to a common goal that is held dear by all. Otherwise, even with an excess of external discipline, unpopular wars are seldom winnable.

Let power be held in check by the acceptance of a common discipline, and submission to a higher authority. Look to the common good. When life is in balance, evil impulses are checked by human decency; parents die before their children; leaders lead and followers follow. If you hold or aspire to a position of leadership, remember that the true leader speaks to and captures the hearts of the people and articulates a clear, simple vision that unites them as a team.

In the realm of government, the relationship between the army and state is critical. Only when the state is economically prosperous can the army be strong. Only when the army is disciplined can the state be protected from disruptive outside forces. For this balance to be preserved, government must be steady, and mild toward its own people. When balancing strong complementary forces, modesty and generosity at the center can be a magnetic force that keeps relationships intact. Coordination of all elements is essential for success at this time.

Daily Humorscopes

Friday, April 8th
 
Aries (March 21 – April 19)
As a joke today, you will get an alarmed expression on your face, crouch on someone’s carpet, and start making disgusting “huck, huck!” sounds. The joke’s on you, though, since they will insist that you eat some hairball remedy.
Taurus (April 20 – May 20)
Today you will discover that you have no real friends. Or at least, that they don’t cast a shadow.
Gemini (May 21 – June 20)
You will write a newspaper article about the Internet today. Why not? Everybody else has.
Cancer (June 21 – July 22)
Excellent day to be expansive and benevolent. It will make people worry.
Leo (July 23 – August 22)
You look ridiculous in that. Go and change.
Virgo (August 23 – September 22)
You will vow to always tell the truth, but it will backfire on you. Most people find that kind of behavior highly suspicious, and more than a little deviant.
Libra (September 23 – October 22)
You will mosey, this week. There’s nothing that wrong with moseying, after all, and it’s occasionally just what is needed. In fact, you’ll soon begin work on “Mosey Your Way To Fitness”, a best-selling self-help book on the topic.
Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)
Try to avoid nibbling on things today. Despite recent developments, you don’t actually know your friend that well yet.
Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)You will invent a new type of bath toy today. It will bring you fame and fortune, although it will also be the cause of an embarrassing appearance on the Letterman show.
Capricorn (December 22 – January 20) Excellent day to do something new with bean curd.
Aquarius (January 21 – February 18)
Avoid yodeling today.
Pisces (February 19 – March 20)Your main problem? You’re not eating NEARLY enough strudel

Your Daily Number for April 8th: 1

Your Daily Number: 1

A sense of renewed energy dominates the day. This is a time for new beginnings, and you’ve got raw dynamic power on your side. The best way to seize the moment? Sharpen your powers of concentration and take the lead, without losing your sensitivity

Fast Facts

About the Number 1

Theme: Masculine, Creative, Independent, Aggressive
Astro Association: Mercury
Tarot Association: Magician