Deity of the Day for July 7th is Gwydion (Welsh)

Deity of the Day

Gwydion (Welsh)

Druid of the mainland gods; son of Don; brother of Govannon, Arianrhod, Amaethon (god of agriculture). Wizard and Bard of North Wales. A many-skilled deity like Lugh. Prince of the Powers of Air; a shape-shifter. His symbol was a white horse. Greatest of the enchanters; warrior-magician. Illusion, changes. magic, the sky, healing.

When Your Pet is More Than A Pet – Familiars and Avatars

Author: Bronwen Forbes

As a prologue to this, you need to know that Herne has been my patron God since I was nine years old. You don’t need to know, but you’ll probably figure out by reading this (if you haven’t already) that sometimes I’m a little slow to notice the obvious.

A few months after adopting my red and white beagle mix Herman, I was trying to sleep in one Saturday morning when I began to idly wonder, “There are so many Goddesses with dogs as part of their symbolism. I wonder what Gods are associated with dogs, too?” And then it hit me like a two-by-four to the forehead. Herne, Lord of the Wild Hunt, is very much associated with dogs, especially red and white hunting dogs, than you very much. (I warned you I’m a little slow sometimes) .

Needless to say, sleep was no longer an option. I sat up and looked at Herman (who had spent the night, as he usually did, asnooze at my side) who was already staring at me with a definite, “took you long enough to figure it out” expression.

And just like that, I not only had a familiar, I had an avatar.

I’m defining “avatar” here not as a recent hit movie or a small picture that represents you on various blogs or discussion boards, but as the earthly representative of a deity. And for the love of me, I hadn’t a clue what to do with mine.

Four months later, we adopted a German Shepherd mix named Katie – and lo and behold, she was also what my husband likes to call a “God-touched” dog. But unlike Herman who was also my familiar (notice the past tense; I still miss him) , Katie let us know pretty quickly that she had no interest whatsoever in being my husband’s familiar, but would happily attend her Goddess Nehelennia’s tasks of safe travel, healing and commerce. Period.

Since acquiring Herman and Katie in 2001, I’ve alao gotten the clue what to do, not just for my special dogs, but for anyone else who may wake up one morning and see deity shining through the eyes of their pet.

First and foremost, and I know this sounds obvious, you have to keep treating your pet like a, well, pet. Your animal companion is your spiritual and or magickal support (familiar) or a little bit of deity (avatar) but he still needs proper food and water, adequate shelter, regular veterinary checkups, exercise, training, vaccinations, etc. After all, it’s not like the Gods can or will take care of your pet for you.

But once the regular, responsible pet ownership duties are taken care of with your familiar or avatar, there are still some things you need to think about to keep your relationship with your animal companion – and your deity – as smooth and fulfilling as possible.

1. Remember that, despite her spiritual role in your life, your pet is still going to act like an animal. Herman used to drive me crazy with this. He was a daily reminder of my relationship with my patron deity, helped me work through some serious ritual issues, was a whiz at helping new students ground and center simply by sitting in their laps during ritual – and he was also a master escape artist. He could climb or dig under any chain link fence, and did so on a pretty regular basis.

Katie, a born healer, is also a big dog and an unrepentant counter-surfer. I can’t begin to count how many times I packed my lunch, left the kitchen to get dressed for work, and came back to find my lunch bag and food containers in Katie’s crate and my ex-lunch in her stomach. She may be God-touched, but she’s still a dog!

2. Give your familiar and/or avatar full autonomy regarding ritual attendance. This includes personal workings, small group rituals, festivals, and rites of passage. Shortly after my Saturday morning revelation about Herman, my husband and I took him with us to visit my parents for the weekend. While we were there, I helped my parents bury the ashes of our old family cat in the side yard garden – an understandably emotional activity. Herman was in the back yard, separated from me by a picket fence. He could see me through the fence, but couldn’t get to me. As my father dug a hole for the ashes, Herman went nuts, for want of a better word. Instead of pursuing squirrels (his usual pastime in my parents’ backyard) , he was throwing himself against the fence and barking frantically, trying to get to me. I should have stepped over the fence, opened the gate, and allowed Herman to join the small ritual. After all, he only wanted to do his job.

There have also been instance and rituals where Herman or Katie did *not* want to attend a particular ritual, and we quickly learned to “listen” to their opinions – rather like knowing that it doesn’t feel right to take a certain tarot deck with you when you go do readings at a community event. We learned this lesson the hard way when we took Katie to a ritual she clearly didn’t want to go to and she had a seizure.

3. Give your pet enough down time. Just as you can’t be in ritual 24/7, it’s unrealistic to expect your pet to be “on, ” i.e. actively acting as a divine representative or helping you with your spiritual work all the time. Don’t bug him to help you if he clearly doesn’t feel like it – the fact that he’s asleep or ignoring you are clear signs that he “doesn’t feel like it.”

If you find yourself needing extra protein, water or sleep after a working or ritual, offer some to your familiar or avatar as well.

If you have a pet that also enhances your spiritual practice or connection with your deity, you have been given a gift beyond price. Very few animals, at least in my experience, can do this, and if you get one or even two in a lifetime, you have truly been blessed. It’s also not something you can actively look for; it’s like love (actually it *is* love) – the more you try to find that special animal, the less likely you are to succeed.

Be patient. If and when you’re ready, the right animal will come.

Empowerment Ceremony for Wands, Rods, Staves, Stangs, and Brooms

Empowerment Ceremony for Wands, Rods, Staves, Stangs, and Brooms 

Timing: New moon (unless the item will be used to specifically to vanish, then choose dark moon or moon in Scorpio).

Supplies: One red candle; holy water or Florida water; salt; empowering oil; incense of your choice; a carving tool or wood-burning tool; a selection of magickal symbols; a pencil (to trace the designs before you carve or use the wood-burning tool); thirteen bricks or white stones; one cauldron.

Pre-Ritual Preparations: Choose and carve the magickal symbols you desire on the piece. Build your circle with the bricks or stones. When you are finished, sprinkle both wooden tool and circle with holy water or Florida Water. Libation to the Gods.

The Ritual: Cast your circle around the stone circle, which will be in the center. Place the cauldron in the stone circle. Light the fire candle and place inside the cauldron. Call the quarters. Invoke deity. Place the wooden ritual piece inside the stone circle. Pass the four elements over the item (fire, incense, salt and holy water). Stand over the circle, raise your arms to the heavens and say:

Mistress (Master) of the Universe! I call thee forth to cleanse and consecrate this (name of item). Empower this (name of item) in the name of universal perfection!

Outstretch both hands toward the item.

(Name item), I conjure thee in the name of the Mistress (Master) of the universe to work all forms of magick for me! Ye shall conjure, banish, empower or cast aside negative energies as I so dictate. Ye shall overcome all obstacles in the performance of these task. At my very touch ye shall awaken into life in preparation for any and all magick and respond with perfection to my very will, and you shall retain your power in fallow days when magick is not required.

So I will, so shall it be!

Rub the item with the holy oil, then draw an equal-armed cross in the air over the item to seal your work. Complete the ritual by offering a libation to the Gods. Thank deity. Close the quarters. Take up the circle with your fingers and place the circle energy in the tool by directing your finger at the tool and envisioning the energy leaving your finger and entering the tool. Leave the item in the light of the following full moon for at least one hour.

“Who is the Wiccan Goddess?” Just saying those words brings on a lot of feelings. A goddess is a female version of a deity, and the Horned God being the male version

“Who is the Wiccan Goddess?” Just saying those words brings on a lot of feelings. A goddess is a female version of a deity, and the Horned God being the male version of a deity. But let us step back for a moment and define just what a deity is, or if it is, and how one should go about dealing with one if its existence pans out to be real.

What is real is what is held in the mind of the individual, but that is questionable. After all, what is real to me may be imaginary to someone else. To an atheist, even talking about the potential existence of deities is absurd. I cannot please other people. I have to please myself and do what I feel is right, and what feels right to me is being able to make decisions on my own and experience the consequences of those decisions. I want a level playing field, not to live in a world where my actions are restricted or my thoughts expressed lead to a retribution of sorts or to authoritative action being brought against my person simply because I had a thought and spoke it aloud.

We humans do not speak haphazardly under normal circumstances and given that we follow some sort of mental etiquette; therefore, an organized mental system is implied, one that allows individuals to live as freely as possible, to be afforded as many freedoms as possible within reason, to have freedom of movement of the body in most every sense of the word. Our collective interpretations of “evil, ” always return back to one experience: the fact that some other person or persons acted on the person of another without their permission, leading to a loss of control over their physical body and entailing a gross loss of respect. Without this act or event becoming part of physical reality, we do not call an event “evil.” It may be characterized in a multitude of ways but with the term “evil” seldom so.

So what does this lead me to conclude? It leads me to logically conclude that if we could eliminate the possibility of another person or persons being able to affect another person in such a way that their permission was not granted or that respect for them was lost, or they were not required to subjugate control of their physical body to others, then I could negate all undesirable experiences and erase them from this world.

But to do that would require tampering with the entire energetic system we all live in, which is not feasible or practical or even probable, but could be conceivable were it done genetically. Nonetheless, none of these options being open to me, I am then puzzled as to why this is so, why the human condition lends itself to such tragedy and why we would choose to be so vulnerable?

Does this not give the atheist or agnostic the prime motive for doubting that deities ever existed in the first place? And if on graduation into the afterlife, as we Pagans call it, Summerland, why would a personality want to advance to the status of deity, only to see its subjects demoralize one another, physically slaughter each other, downplay the integrity and rights of others, ad infinitum?

These are valid questions and strike at the heart of most logical and simple thinkers throughout all eras of history. I feel free enough to write these words in the year 2010, without fear of being burned alive, or rebuked by my elders or societal influences, because I live in the United States of America, which is a republic based on a democratic form of governance.

Given that I live in America, I also am free to practice my religion, Wicca. This Pagan religion is based on two deities: The Wiccan Goddess and the Horned God, and can conceivably contain many other gods and goddesses depending on which pantheon is ascribed to, what peculiar beliefs any one individual may feel inclined to entertain.

Wicca has given me a nature-based love of life and myself that I did not find in other faiths, whether those be Eastern based or Judeo-Christian. My love for the Earth and for Nature itself and the Sacredness of all Life, lead me into a deep study of myself and my dream life and the interior universe that illuminates my thoughts, occupies my days and fills my nights with song and revelry, or quiet nights alone reading sitting in silence, listening to the purr of electronic gadgets in my home, or the refrigerator, or watching my cat nestled on the futon deeply enmeshed in her own dream universe.

And how is the dream of my cat any more real than my own dream? How is my cat’s dream any more real than the Wiccan Goddess? Subjective realities exist and always will exist, the domain of the mind is a fertile domain that has no ground or dirt or trees. The trees that grow in the mind are of a different variety, but you can rest assured they are as real, if not more real, than the trees in your own yard.

When we leave physical reality and rejoin the whole personality that exists in the dimension inside of yourself, then we will see the reality of our efforts in life. Quite often, I have majestic and wonderful thoughts during the workday, sprites of thought that bubble up and colorfully wisp across my mind and I feel satisfied, though only until the feeling subsides and again I’m back in the ego dungeon world, of my own accord. It’s only a dungeon inasmuch as it cuts out other data and can be restricting and even destructive if allowed to dry up and separate itself too much from the other parts of your whole personality. Nothing is more dangerous than allowing yourself to be ruled by the ego portion of your personality alone, with no input or influx from other portions of your sacred whole person who exists as surely as the birds singing outside, as surely as the ocean surf, as surely as trees.

Bounty and aliveness filled my being when I did my initiation ritual and filled the psychic air of my ritual room, the space of which also doubled as a workspace and a home gym. Raising energy in your ritual room is a good idea, and exercising in it all the better. But what good is it to raise energy or accumulate it, if you don’t know the outcome of the events of your life, or you don’t know if the Wiccan Goddess is real or not, and if you don’t know what tomorrow will yield? To this end, much speculation has happened, much writing and intellectual effort been penned out, and much exasperation and depression and anxiety been wrought, all in the name of certainty and of the unknown.

The one certainty is life is the unknown, and on it you can rely as a counterpoint to your questions, a foundation to base your knowledge on, a place to go to unleash yourself. Creativity and love and wonder come from the unknown like springs of water, their roots hidden, but feeding all the tributaries and valleys and ripples that go out and expand and make up a personality.

So we are still left with the question: who is the Wiccan Goddess? Where did she come from? The latter question is basically meaningless, as she came from the same place I did, and every reader of this text did, the unknown place inside ourselves that can be known in dark times, or even in solitude or quiet moments of reflection. She is alive in every cell of your body, and reminds you of the showers of nostalgia you have every day entertained in your mind and heart, ever seeking and yearning to evolve into more than it was.

The Wiccan Goddess is not a deity who is hanging out somewhere, in a state of readiness or beyond evolving. She is what you make her, and she lives in your heart and in the oscillations of your molecules and in the corridors of your mind. Meet her there, and you can evolve together and make a new pioneering world without the constraints of constant egoism, corporate tyranny or dependence on others who may or may not have your best interests in mind.

Focus on the positive, stay centered and aim for your highest dreams, because dreams really do become your world.

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…

The Witch’s Altar

The Witch’s Altar
 
Some scholars think that the first altars were actually tombs of the dead where offerings were made to a deified ancestor. Others believe that the idea of the altar came from the Pagan belief that the newly deceased were gathered on the borders of the sky, under the constellation call Ara, meaning “the altar.” Ara lies in the Milky Way, south of Scorpius, and is well to the south of the celestial equator. The ancient Greeks visualized it as the altar on which their Gods swore an oath of allegiance before challenging the Titans for control of the universe. The word “altar” comes from a Latin word that translates to “on high.” We could put a variety of meanings to this terminology–from a physically high place, to a seat in the stars, to the more esoteric meaning of consecrating a sacred area that sits between the worlds of human and deity, enabling the human to work with deity on the deity’s level from where the Witch physically stands. Ancient altars were often made of stone or, if constructed of wood, held some type of stone surface in the center. Many were carved or painted with symbols of animals and deities. It was during the various Inquisitions that the Witch altar took on a more lurid, negative role–an inappropriate and unaccurate representation of the Craft altar–that was reflected in many horror movies from the 1940s through the 70s, feeding the inaccurate, sensationalist information to the general public. During a few modern Craft ceremonies, a person’s body may become the altar for a few moments to meld them with the elemental and divine energies so that in the future they may work easily through space and time; however, sacrifices and rampant sexual excursions, as shown in the movies, are not part of Wiccan dogma.

Spellcraft And The Divine

Some modern religions use spellcraft regularly as part of their worship. Neo-Pagan religions such as Wicca, Druidry, Ásatrú, and other established path such as Santeria, Voudoun, and Candomblé all use spellwork as part of their worship process. Spellwork can certainly be done within a religious context, whether the religion is one of those mentioned or not. Within a spell, the inclusion of a deity or a higher power of some kind immediately transforms the spell into a spiritual act. However, the deity you appeal to in a spell should be a deity to whom you have at least introduced yourself, and have obtained their permission to work with them, otherwise you’re not going to get much out of it. Several spells in the “cookbook craft” category toss around invocations to Hecate as the Queen of Witches or invoke Aphrodite to help out in a love spell. These are ancient deities, now often thought relegated to mythology books. You can’t just harness their energies; there has to be more to it than that., If your spell knocks at their door, they’re likely to take a look through the spyhole, not recognize you, and won’t answer. Even ancient deities understand what dangers lie with inviting just anyone into their home. Conversely, why invoke a deity associated with another culture or religion just because a spell in a book tells you to do it? What do you know about them? Who knows what kind of energy you might be inviting into your spell?

If you function within an established faith, your best bet is to appeal to the deity or aspect of the Divine that you already work with. You have an established relationship with this deity. When your spell comes knocking,k the deity will recognize your energy, and your spell will have the added boost of love and energy freely given.

If you involve a spiritual entity such as a deity or an angel in a spell does it become a ritual? Not necessarily. It depends on your goal. Is your goal to achieve nirvana, or to become spiritually balanced within your religious path? Then you’re performing a ritual. Is it to obtain a new cat, or to release anger or stress? Then it’s a spell. When you’re not precisely sure if your goal is spiritual or practical, then it’s probably still a spell.