You Know Someone Is New To Magick and Paganism When They Think That…

You Know Someone Is New To Magick and Paganism When They Think That…

An ATHAME is the gas you use for your grill.

A CENSOR is a drink you mix with alcohol.

ASTRAL PROJECTION is a home-made movie viewer.

A SYMPATHITIC LINK is when you feel sorry because your chain broke.

WICCA is that part of the candle that burns.

APHRODITE is a prehistoric bird.

ARCHETYPES is a kind of building structure.

BLESSED BE is the god of insects.

A BOOK OF SHADOWS contains silhouettes of friends or family members.

A BRAZIER is support wear for women.

CASTING is done with a fishing line, or on a set in Hollywood.

CHARGING is done with a credit card or battery.

The only way to get into a CIRCLE is to have the right of way.

Crystal CLEANSING is done with window cleaner.

CYCLES have to do with your washing machine and when to add fabric softener.

DEMETER is where you put your quarter when you park downtown.

A DOLMAN is a new brand of banana.

HANDFASTING is eating without utensils.

LEY LINES happen at the airport in Hawaii.

PAN is something you fry food in.

A QUARTER is 25 cents and still buys a cup of coffee. (Note: This person is not only new to magick, but they also haven’t been out in a while!)

SKYCLAD is a shade of blue clothing.

A TRAD is a type of geometrical figure.

WHEEL OF FORTUNE is the game show with Vanna White.

The Wicca Book of Days for Feb. 8th – Aspirational Air

Fantasy Graphics= 

Aspirational Air  

 

The Element that ancient astrologers assigned to today’s zodiacal sign of Aquarius is Air which has many symbolic connotations, including communication, intelligence, spirituality, aspirations and other “higher things,” along with independence and an aversion to being constrained. In addition, Air is associated with Spring; the East; and the color blue, the hue of the sky that is this Element’s realm. Air is also considered to be a spiritual Element, for it provides the breath of life, or soul, that animates us, while ghosts are popularly believed to be ethereal, incorporeal beings that can be felt (often as a breeze or drop in temperature), rather than seen.

 

 “Melodious Messages” 

Messages are carried through the air as sounds. Today, you’ll find that including songs in you rituals pays dividends, by enabling your soul to sing freely. Invoke the Goddess in this melodious way and you should find your pleas answered.   

~Magickal Graphics~

The Pagan Newbie

The Pagan Newbie

Author: Crick

We often hear of someone who considers themselves a ‘newbie’ on the path of the mystical arts, or of others referring to someone as a ‘newbie’. But is either of these descriptions really accurate?

The concepts of paganism and the parameters that define such concepts have always been since the first human took breath and more likely even before the advent of humans. There are some who will say that paganism and thus by association the mystical arts, died out and is just now being re-discovered. But is this really an accurate observation? Or is it really our perception and thus sense of awareness that is new?

How many times as a child did you have an “imaginary friend”? Was this friend really imaginary or was it just that the mind of that child had not yet been brainwashed to deny such a sense of awareness? Was the perception of that child such that they could see/sense otherworldly beings? How many times as a child has one seen faeries?

And yet as adults such sightings have become a desire that is in many cases difficult to achieve.

Why?

Did the faeries cease to appear? Were they, as some would have us think, simply figments of our imagination? Or are such invectives towards the imagination really just subtle denials of that which really does exist but which certain folks feel more comfortable denying the existence of?

Within paganism, imagination, which is visualization by another name, is a necessary tenet or tool of paganism and by association, the mystical arts. And who but a child has such a powerful and unfettered tool as that of imagination/visualization?

And so instead of viewing paganism/mystical arts as some re-discovered form of belief, perhaps it’s simply that our realization and thus acceptance of what has always been is really what is now coming into play. And if this is the case, is anyone really a newbie to paganism/mystical arts?

Could it be that those who now choose paganism/mystical arts are basically just shedding the denial that has been implanted from an early age? When we walk through the woods and a deer silently walks by without one noticing it, is the deer non-existent or is it just our sense of awareness that is the reality here?

When we go fishing we cannot see the fish beneath the surface of the water but we cast our lines in anyway. Do the fish hidden in the depths not exist because we cannot espy them, or do we cast our lines into the murky waters because we know that there is something there even if we cannot physically see it?

Or do we decide that what one cannot see, one cannot acknowledge and thus we move on without bothering to cast our lines in at all.

Paganism/mystical arts are akin to this analogy in many ways. Every person on earth is involved in paganism/mystical arts their entire lives and has always been. For it is such tenets of reality that have immersed us from the very beginning of time as we know it. It is our sense of awareness of this reality that determines whether we once again step onto the path of paganism/mystical arts.

Saint Augustine once said; “Unless you believe, you will not understand”. And so though there are some who will deny the existence of paganism/mystical arts this does not preclude a reality that is ever present and ever evolving. It simply highlights a sense of denial of a profound awareness. And as this denial is pierced and recognition of reality and the higher truths that accompany it are brought into the scope of one’s awareness, that person re-emerges onto the pagan path that in all reality they were always on.

And so in essence, no one is a “newbie” as such in regards to paganism/mystical paths. And so such descriptions as “newbie” should be seen not as an introduction by one to paganism/mystical arts, or as it is in some cases as a diatribe used to elevate one’s own sense of personal status, but rather as a re-awakening of one’s awareness of such a reality.

In my own “personal opinion” such a term as “newbie” should be a cause of celebration much like the birth of a newborn child. For when one opens their awareness beyond the layers of denial that have accumulated over the course of one’s life, that person has emerged from the depths of denial and is once again swimming freely in the waters of self discovery and personal growth.

Is this not a cause for great celebration and adulation by those who willingly walk the pagan/spiritual path?

If we are determined to utilize the word “newbie”, then perhaps we should consider changing the implications of such a word from the current understanding. For in essence, we are all “newbie’s” as we seek to walk the mystical path. For each time we encounter a mystery of life and arrive at an answer that works for our individual lives, we open the door to yet another mystery or experience. Is this not the essence of what it means to be a pagan?

It is this constant seeking that for me at least, defines the difference between being a subservient member of a religion and being a seeker on a spiritual path. The latter has set parameters of which subscribers are expected to follow blindly without question. And of which one is discouraged from questioning even when such questions beg an answer.

As a seeker on the mystical path, one has un-fettered liberties to form and then to seek the answers to the questions of spirituality that we all face, whether as a member of a religion or as a seeker on the spiritual path.

And so if I have to take on the label of “newbie” in order to experience such freedom of the heart, mind and soul, then I personally will wear such a label with humble pride. For as a newbie, I look forward to the rest of my life as being involved in a state of discovery and learning.

If being a newbie equates to being a pagan, I have found my calling, have you?

The Story of an African American Wiccan Priestess

The Story of an African American Wiccan Priestess

Author: LilithSilverKrow

During my 14 years of study of Witchcraft and Wicca, Shamanism and Paganism, I have found that Pagans of Color are hard to come by, or just simply in hiding. For years of my life, I have searched far and wide to create a group based on African American Neo Paganism and Wicca, but to no avail, it’s as if I am the only one who exists. While I know this isn’t true, I often find myself wondering if the traditional stereotypes of our African American Family culture, and the binds that keep families of color separated from other belief systems are true.

Is it true that we must bind our beliefs solely within the Christian Hierarchy of religious followings? Do we tell our families that we hold a close belief in something other than the all-knowing all-mighty God? How do we tell our families that we are not evil, and that we believe in the purity of nature?

Coming from a strict family of Deacons, Pastors and Reverends in the Christian Faith (not to mention the Catholics, and Jehovah’s witnesses) didn’t make my coming out so easy. When I was a young Pagan on my path to understanding the ways of the Goddess, I slowly came out to my family with little subtle hints that their way of religion was not particularly right for me and my spiritual tastes.

I would often deliberately sleep in on Sundays, ditch bible school, and refuse to sing in the choir- (er.. I mean I suddenly lost my voice, of course) . I would spend many hours in silent meditation, out in public spaces (like the living room, or the front porch) , which often lead to a lot of interesting questions. While this was probably not the best way to come out in a family so demanding of living a Christian life, it was a subtle way of letting know that I had a different path to walk. Finally, I was kicked out of my mother’s house for two different reasons. 1. For being a Lesbian Vegan, and 2. For being a Witch.

The very first book I had ever read was True Magick by Amber K. My mother actually found that book while “cleaning my room” and asked me if Christmas was out of the question. I started to explain to her the Pagan holidays, and what it means to be a witch- then she proceeded to tell my great-aunt, the devout Christian from Kansas and head of the family about me and my choice of religion… This caused an absolute riot in the family, and I was thrown out immediately on the spot, with no place to go. After a while of communicating with my mother, and letting her read all the books I deliberately left laying around, she decided to let me back in the house if I promised to stop being a Lesbian, at least eat some chicken and not tell anyone about my choosing to be a witch… At least she let me have my spiritual choice… one down and one and a half to go.

After my mother and I settled are differences about the whole idea of me being a Pagan child, she allowed me to have friends of the same faith and decided that it was time for me to go and be myself. She realized after all the fights and the arguments, that I wasn’t going to change my mind and that if she wanted me not to be who I was authentically, then I would obviously need to find my own place and move away from the house.

At the age of 16, I moved away to continue to lead a group or coven, and study with only those that were serious about Wicca and Witchcraft. I refused to let anyone in our group unless they read at least 5 books pertaining to Witchcraft or Wicca, and knew the basics of what our Spirituality was about. I look back know and realize that I have always been serious about my religion, and have made sure that others around me radiated the same kind of energy that I did. I never let movies influence me and I never bothered to listen to what others said about me. I was once again the only African American of my group.

My group consisted of several different races and ethnicities- Puerto Rican, Vietnamese, Caucasian, Mexican, and well me the black girl and “High Priestess”. I really hated the title of High Priestess, because having read all the books that I took the time to read, I knew that there was no such thing as miraculously becoming a high priestess. I just kept learning and making sure that all of the people in our coven were doing what it took to learn all of the initiatory rights, bound by the law of the Wiccan rede and following the wheel of the year. Sometimes I look back and think that I knew more then than I do now, and other times I wish that I could find more people of color to start a new coven all over again- this time with the right credentials to lead.

To conclude my story, I stuck with Paganism because it was the only source of spirit that allowed me to connect with the feminine energies of the Goddess. It was my only source of love and abundance and understanding and it has brought me nothing but wonderful bliss and has made my life truly centered and enlightened. I have learned how to connect with all sorts of people, to fit in and to allow what comes to me to come.

Although, I am still looking for Pagans of color who have a sense of their own individuality and pride as Pagans, I am happy doing what I do best. I am now running a humanitarian business here in Portland Oregon that focuses on the Pagan community, I own a two Shops, teach workshops and classes in the Pagan community and I do Shamanic Soul coaching and Journey work. This is what I do for a living, serve the Goddess in any way shape or form that I can. I dedicated my life and live in Service of the Goddess, and forever I will always be in service to those that need healing.

May the God and Goddess Bless you,
Love and Blessed Light,
Lilith Silverkrow


Footnotes:
B y Lilith Silverkrow

The Rise of Wicca and Neo–Paganism in the United States

The Rise of Wicca and Neo–Paganism in the United States

Author: Govannon Thunderwolf

Wicca is becoming the fastest growing religion in the United States. This statement was something I was hearing and reading more and more. Being a member of the Pagan community, I didn’t really notice any of this growth happening. The more books and articles on the Internet that I read, the more I kept seeing this statement. The research into this declaration became my focus of interest. What fascinated me the most about this account was the fact that Wiccans and neo – Pagans do not go around with the specific intent of finding converts. In the teachings and ideas of Wicca and Paganism, the idea of looking for converts is not encouraged and is looked down upon. Anyone seeking converts into Wicca or Paganism is breaking a cardinal rule.

Even though Wicca is generally a female dominated religion, there are men involved as well. Wicca is a religion that recognizes women and men as equals, but it does put a slight emphasis on women and the Goddess. Female witches out number males two to one in the United States, according to the Covenant of the Goddess’s estimates. Covenant of the Goddess is one of the oldest and largest Wiccan groups in the United States. They also state that much of the recent growth in Wicca and neo – Paganism has been among women. (Sanders xiv)

Where would someone look to find followers of Wicca and Pagans? They can be found anywhere and everywhere. The actual number of Wiccan and Pagan followers in the United States changes constantly, but in 1999 Helen Berger, a sociologist who spent ten years as a member of the neo – Pagan community, estimated that there are between 150, 000 and 200, 000 Pagans in the United States. It is suspected that there are many more among the ranks of Pagans today. Berger’s census also found that California has the highest amount of Pagans living within its boundaries at 15.7 percent, followed by Massachusetts at 7.6 percent, and New York at 7.3 percent. (Sanders xiv)

While there were many contributors to the construct of Wicca since the 1890’s, there was one man, who in 1954 wrote and published Witchcraft Today, and that man was Gerald Gardner (1884 – 1964) . Even though Druidism, Witchcraft, and other forms of Paganism were originally oral traditions, their revival is attributed to written text. (Clifton 14 – 15)

Very little is known about Gerald Gardner except for what is public record. He was a civil servant for the United Kingdom, and spent most of his career in Britain’s Asian colonies before he retired and settled in southern England. Gardner was one of the many who thought it more prestigious to have learned the “craft”, a term used for Witchcraft, an elder of one’s own family. Gardner didn’t claim to have learned Wicca from an elder of his own family, but did claim to have learned it from elders with family ties that went way back many generations. For most people in the Pagan community, it was well know that Gardner was considered a bit of a pervert due to his tendency toward bondage and ritualized punishment. It came through in his writings and ideas of practice, but the resurgence of “the craft” is mainly attributed to him. The people of Britain have always made changes to religions to try and make them their own, but Wicca is the only religion that originated in the United Kingdom. (Clifton 14 – 15)

Wicca is generally a solitary religion and seventy percent of its followers are solitary, taking personal responsibility for their own religious practice, rather than following an authority figure. Without a strict set of beliefs, “each practitioner can add or subtract beliefs at will, ” this is a part of what makes Wicca so popular. (Sanders 5)

Now I will continue this paper on three main reasons that I found the most compelling reasons for people of all walks of life to be drawn to Wicca and Paganism, beginning with a concern for the Earth.

The fear of Global Warming and preserving what we now have for future generations is a major common concern among contemporary Pagans. Most of modern society has lost an important connection with nature. In some cases there is even a fear of nature. To be fearful of the natural world, in which we as human beings came from, just as all life has, is quite a cause for alarm. When the system of Wicca was originally developed, its focus was on fertility, just as the ancients were focused on fertility. As history has shown, fertility was a main concern for all people in ancient times.

Life was hard for our ancient ancestors and fertility of the land, animals, people, etc. was the only way for them to continue life and surviving. With human fertility becoming less of a concern in modern times because of improvements in science, the focus has now shifted to nature. This change is another way in which Wicca and Paganism can remain a positive religion. It is a religion that recognizes change and changes with it. If something can’t change with the times, it will get left behind and become history.

The American mainstream religions have done very little to foster concern for nature. Never, have I heard of any sermons given on how people should be encouraged to care for the environment, be good caretakers of nature, and preservation of natural resources. This again, leads many to view Paganism and Wicca more approvingly. (Sanders 22)

Paganism also acknowledges nature by following the cycles of the seasons and life. Pagans and Wiccans are encouraged to live their lives by looking to nature as their guide. They live in the here and now as opposed to living and planning for the end of life. Through this view of nature, Wiccans and Pagans acknowledge their connection to all life and the greater cosmos. Many mainstream religious writers believe that honoring nature is not enough for religion or life because it contains violence and brutality. (Harvey 187) This worldview on life and nature is the basis for Wiccans and Pagans to believe in no absolute good or evil. All things in nature are good and evil at the same time and therefore it applies to life as well.

The second reason for the attraction to Paganism and Wicca is empowerment for women. The Christian church has treated women like “second – class citizens” for much of its history. This treatment of women is also prevalent in much of the Western world as well. (Sanders 22) Many women have become quite discontent with the Christian church. When women have expressed an interest in becoming more involved in the church, they are usually directed to make coffee and teach Sunday school. With the concerns of equal rights coming more and more to the forefront in our society, how do the patriarchal religions expect women to remain subservient? (Sanders 22)

For the last several thousand years of patriarchal religions domination of the Western world, large numbers of women have been searching for a spiritual existence free from the patriarchal dogma. With Wicca’s emphasis on Goddess worship, it attracts those women who want to find a spiritual side to their feminism. (Adler 207 – 24)

The feminist views of women have been the main driving force pushing Wicca to be accepted as a religion. Not all Wiccan groups are feminist though. Most Pagans and Wiccans have a more moderate view of the feministic ideas. Feminist Wiccan groups have dropped a lot of common beliefs in the Pagan community in favor of an all female belief system. By doing such things as only recognizing the female deities and eliminating the male deities, they are alienating themselves from the rest of the Pagan and Wiccan community. (Adler 180 – 81)

Many women have become quite discontent with the Christian church. When women have expressed an interest in becoming more involved in the church, they are usually directed to make coffee and teach Sunday school. With the concerns of equal rights coming more and more to the forefront in our society, how do the patriarchal religions expect women to remain subservient? (Sanders 22)

One doesn’t need to look very hard to see the atrocities that have been committed against women in history by patriarchal societies. One common saying in modern Pagan communities that can be found imprinted on t – shirts and bumper stickers is, “Don’t forget the burning times.” This refers to the days of the infamous witch-hunts. Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Evildoers) published in 1486/87 by Jacob Spenger and Heinrich Krämer was the authoritative witch hunter’s manual. One key phrase from this manual that modern Pagan writers like to quote is: “All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which in women is insatiable.” (Clifton 100) This “authoritative” work also stated that women were created from the bent rib of Adam, therefore women are “imperfect animals” if they are even animals at all. (Pearson 302)

In the Malleus Maleficarum, inquisitors, the ones who were authorized to verify involvement in witchcraft, were informed that guilty women would make sexual pacts with Satan. Therefore, after this pact was made, any event in the local community that disrupted the well being of the people was most certainly caused by a witch in their ranks. (Pearson 302 – 3)

When the inquisitors were in search of a “witch”, one could be found quite readily. More often than not, the accused was just a woman that someone had a grudge against. Many also speculated that these “witches” might have been highly learned women, such as early scientists. Because of the ridiculous information contained in the Malleus Maleficarum on how to proceed with the “trials” of the accused, there generally was “no mistake” of finding them guilty. Guilty women and a few men as well, were relatively few in the colonies of America. On the other hand, in Europe the numbers of the accused were astronomical. Imagine the amount of people that lost their lives due to the feelings of resentment of some sort or other, such as the amount of land they owned or a person’s general success. Many Wiccans and Pagans feel that the amount of people who were actually true witches during these “trials” was closer to none. (Gibson 112 – 18)

The final main reason that I would like to point out for the attraction of Wicca and Paganism is the attraction of the supernatural. While Pagans and Wiccans accept the belief in an unseen world, forces, and entities, many, if not all, Christian churches, in these modern times, ignore this belief. In many cases, a person could stir up quite a bit of trouble for themselves by stating a belief in an unseen world in the Christian church. (Sanders 23 – 26)

Reading ones future by using tarot cards and runes are very popular forms of divination among Pagans and Wiccans. There are many other popular forms of divination and occult sciences such as the use of crystals. Even though many of these beliefs forms were allowed by Christianity in their early years of development, now these systems have no place in Christianity. Many people have speculated when and why this shift occurred. Modern science has been trying to validate these occult sciences for quite some time now, but with limited success. The simple fact that the occult sciences are being tested gives valid support in their existence. (Handbook of Contemporary 425)

There are still many things in the world that can’t be explained by modern science. In the acknowledgement of this fact is where modern Pagans revel. It still gives room for belief in the ideas of fairies, mythical beings, and other such beliefs.

Discussions of the supernatural will quickly conjure up visions and ideas in relation to recent popular movies such as Harry Potter, The Seeker, Lord of the Rings, and many, many other movies. While these movies and books quickly catch the imagination, their similarities to actual supernatural occurrences are very, very limited. For the most part, these movies and books are purely fantasy. Even so, there have been some Christian based groups that are in opposition of these forms of entertainment. They believe that it sways people, especially children, to take an interest in Wicca and Paganism. (Handbook of New 459 – 60)

As Catherine Edwards Sanders, a Christian journalist, points out, “most Wiccans [and Pagans] have thought more seriously about spirituality and some of life’s big questions than many in the secular and even Christian cultures. They have not been content to skate through life seeking the gods of fashion, peer pressure, or materialism, reserving religion for weekends and special holidays.” (30)

Most Pagans and Wiccans actually view their lives as being interconnected with the rest of the world as a whole. They realize that there are, in fact, fewer events in their lives through this interconnection with the rest of the world.

With the impending end of the Mayan calendar in 2012, there have been many theories in reference to the end of the world. In fact, recently the “dooms day” movies have been coming out more and more frequently. One can only speculate that as 2012 draws nearer, the apocalyptic world movies and theories will by coming out at a frantic pace.

In the Wiccan and Pagan groups though, ideas of the world coming to an end are not so prevalent. Many think that the date of 12 December 2012 will be a beginning of a ‘New World Age.’ Many experts believe that this will be an age of peace and interconnection with the rest of the world and beyond for the next 5, 200 years. The experts are also saying that the ‘veil’ that separates our world from the spirit world will be lifted. The descendents of the Ancient Mayan’s say that we are already in the twenty – five year timeline of this change. (Rennison np.)

This information of the coming change according to the Mayan calendar is something that modern Pagans and Wiccans are looking forward to.

In conclusion, is there a rise in the Wicca and Pagan belief system? Given the research, the answer would definitely be a resounding yes. The movement is very broad and difficult to pin down, but it has been noticed. Many authors and professionals are calling on others to try and do research on the subject. With others taking an interest in the movement, maybe someone or maybe a group of individuals will come forward with some new views or theories on this movement. With these new views and theories we can only hope to find a definite reason for this shift.

Until then, there will be many I’m sure who will take on this daunting task. There are hundreds of theories already studied or in the process of being studied. I’m sure that there are many other ideas out there that have not yet been discussed or found in the public forum. With the case of the ancient Mayans, their descendants have said that there is plenty more information that they are in possession of, but have yet to let the rest of the world know about it. Whether there is more information yet to come remains to be seen.

I’m sure that there other ancient civilizations out there that have possessed knowledge or information, now lost. Unfortunately, just as these civilizations have disappeared, so has their immediate knowledge of this information. They did leave behind recordings of information that are in the processes of being deciphered and theories investigated. The only problem is that many individuals in the modern world have a very difficult time believing what the ancients were saying. This in turn leads to very different ideas in what is being told, many times the information is right there, but many misinterpret the information only because the obvious is just too difficult to comprehend.


Footnotes:
Works Cited:

Adler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America. New York: Penguin (Non-Classics) , 2006. Print.
Berger, Helen A., Evan A. Leach, and Leigh S. Shaffer. Voices from the Pagan Census A National Survey of Witches and Neo-Pagans in the United States (Studies in Comparative Religion) . New York: University of South Carolina, 2003. Print.
Clifton, Chas S. Her Hidden Children: the Rise of Wicca and Paganism in America. Lanham: AltaMira, 2006. Print.
Gibson, Marion H. Witchcraft Myths in American Culture. New York: Routledge, 2007. Print.
Handbook of New Age (Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion) . New York: Brill Academic, 2007. Print.
Handbook of Contemporary Paganism (Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion) . New York: Brill Academic, 2009. Print.
Harvey, Graham. Contemporary Paganism Listening People, Speaking Earth. New York: NYU, 2000. Print.
Pearson, Joanne. Belief Beyond Boundaries Wicca, Celtic Spirituality and the New Age (Religion Today-Tradition, Modernity and Change) . Grand Rapids: Ashgate, 2002. Print.
Sanders, Catherine. Wicca’s Charm Understanding the Spiritual Hunger Behind the Rise of Modern Witchcraft and Pagan Spirituality. Wheaton: Shaw, 2005. Print.
“Susan Rennison’s Website.” Susan Joy Rennison’s Website. Web. 18 Dec. 2009. .

The Rise of Wicca and Neo–Paganism in the United States


Author: Govannon Thunderwolf

Wicca is becoming the fastest growing religion in the United States. This statement was something I was hearing and reading more and more. Being a member of the Pagan community, I didn’t really notice any of this growth happening. The more books and articles on the Internet that I read, the more I kept seeing this statement. The research into this declaration became my focus of interest. What fascinated me the most about this account was the fact that Wiccans and neo – Pagans do not go around with the specific intent of finding converts. In the teachings and ideas of Wicca and Paganism, the idea of looking for converts is not encouraged and is looked down upon. Anyone seeking converts into Wicca or Paganism is breaking a cardinal rule.

Even though Wicca is generally a female dominated religion, there are men involved as well. Wicca is a religion that recognizes women and men as equals, but it does put a slight emphasis on women and the Goddess. Female witches out number males two to one in the United States, according to the Covenant of the Goddess’s estimates. Covenant of the Goddess is one of the oldest and largest Wiccan groups in the United States. They also state that much of the recent growth in Wicca and neo – Paganism has been among women. (Sanders xiv)

Where would someone look to find followers of Wicca and Pagans? They can be found anywhere and everywhere. The actual number of Wiccan and Pagan followers in the United States changes constantly, but in 1999 Helen Berger, a sociologist who spent ten years as a member of the neo – Pagan community, estimated that there are between 150, 000 and 200, 000 Pagans in the United States. It is suspected that there are many more among the ranks of Pagans today. Berger’s census also found that California has the highest amount of Pagans living within its boundaries at 15.7 percent, followed by Massachusetts at 7.6 percent, and New York at 7.3 percent. (Sanders xiv)

While there were many contributors to the construct of Wicca since the 1890’s, there was one man, who in 1954 wrote and published Witchcraft Today, and that man was Gerald Gardner (1884 – 1964) . Even though Druidism, Witchcraft, and other forms of Paganism were originally oral traditions, their revival is attributed to written text. (Clifton 14 – 15)

Very little is known about Gerald Gardner except for what is public record. He was a civil servant for the United Kingdom, and spent most of his career in Britain’s Asian colonies before he retired and settled in southern England. Gardner was one of the many who thought it more prestigious to have learned the “craft”, a term used for Witchcraft, an elder of one’s own family. Gardner didn’t claim to have learned Wicca from an elder of his own family, but did claim to have learned it from elders with family ties that went way back many generations. For most people in the Pagan community, it was well know that Gardner was considered a bit of a pervert due to his tendency toward bondage and ritualized punishment. It came through in his writings and ideas of practice, but the resurgence of “the craft” is mainly attributed to him. The people of Britain have always made changes to religions to try and make them their own, but Wicca is the only religion that originated in the United Kingdom. (Clifton 14 – 15)

Wicca is generally a solitary religion and seventy percent of its followers are solitary, taking personal responsibility for their own religious practice, rather than following an authority figure. Without a strict set of beliefs, “each practitioner can add or subtract beliefs at will, ” this is a part of what makes Wicca so popular. (Sanders 5)

Now I will continue this paper on three main reasons that I found the most compelling reasons for people of all walks of life to be drawn to Wicca and Paganism, beginning with a concern for the Earth.

The fear of Global Warming and preserving what we now have for future generations is a major common concern among contemporary Pagans. Most of modern society has lost an important connection with nature. In some cases there is even a fear of nature. To be fearful of the natural world, in which we as human beings came from, just as all life has, is quite a cause for alarm. When the system of Wicca was originally developed, its focus was on fertility, just as the ancients were focused on fertility. As history has shown, fertility was a main concern for all people in ancient times.

Life was hard for our ancient ancestors and fertility of the land, animals, people, etc. was the only way for them to continue life and surviving. With human fertility becoming less of a concern in modern times because of improvements in science, the focus has now shifted to nature. This change is another way in which Wicca and Paganism can remain a positive religion. It is a religion that recognizes change and changes with it. If something can’t change with the times, it will get left behind and become history.

The American mainstream religions have done very little to foster concern for nature. Never, have I heard of any sermons given on how people should be encouraged to care for the environment, be good caretakers of nature, and preservation of natural resources. This again, leads many to view Paganism and Wicca more approvingly. (Sanders 22)

Paganism also acknowledges nature by following the cycles of the seasons and life. Pagans and Wiccans are encouraged to live their lives by looking to nature as their guide. They live in the here and now as opposed to living and planning for the end of life. Through this view of nature, Wiccans and Pagans acknowledge their connection to all life and the greater cosmos. Many mainstream religious writers believe that honoring nature is not enough for religion or life because it contains violence and brutality. (Harvey 187) This worldview on life and nature is the basis for Wiccans and Pagans to believe in no absolute good or evil. All things in nature are good and evil at the same time and therefore it applies to life as well.

The second reason for the attraction to Paganism and Wicca is empowerment for women. The Christian church has treated women like “second – class citizens” for much of its history. This treatment of women is also prevalent in much of the Western world as well. (Sanders 22) Many women have become quite discontent with the Christian church. When women have expressed an interest in becoming more involved in the church, they are usually directed to make coffee and teach Sunday school. With the concerns of equal rights coming more and more to the forefront in our society, how do the patriarchal religions expect women to remain subservient? (Sanders 22)

For the last several thousand years of patriarchal religions domination of the Western world, large numbers of women have been searching for a spiritual existence free from the patriarchal dogma. With Wicca’s emphasis on Goddess worship, it attracts those women who want to find a spiritual side to their feminism. (Adler 207 – 24)

The feminist views of women have been the main driving force pushing Wicca to be accepted as a religion. Not all Wiccan groups are feminist though. Most Pagans and Wiccans have a more moderate view of the feministic ideas. Feminist Wiccan groups have dropped a lot of common beliefs in the Pagan community in favor of an all female belief system. By doing such things as only recognizing the female deities and eliminating the male deities, they are alienating themselves from the rest of the Pagan and Wiccan community. (Adler 180 – 81)

Many women have become quite discontent with the Christian church. When women have expressed an interest in becoming more involved in the church, they are usually directed to make coffee and teach Sunday school. With the concerns of equal rights coming more and more to the forefront in our society, how do the patriarchal religions expect women to remain subservient? (Sanders 22)

One doesn’t need to look very hard to see the atrocities that have been committed against women in history by patriarchal societies. One common saying in modern Pagan communities that can be found imprinted on t – shirts and bumper stickers is, “Don’t forget the burning times.” This refers to the days of the infamous witch-hunts. Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Evildoers) published in 1486/87 by Jacob Spenger and Heinrich Krämer was the authoritative witch hunter’s manual. One key phrase from this manual that modern Pagan writers like to quote is: “All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which in women is insatiable.” (Clifton 100) This “authoritative” work also stated that women were created from the bent rib of Adam, therefore women are “imperfect animals” if they are even animals at all. (Pearson 302)

In the Malleus Maleficarum, inquisitors, the ones who were authorized to verify involvement in witchcraft, were informed that guilty women would make sexual pacts with Satan. Therefore, after this pact was made, any event in the local community that disrupted the well being of the people was most certainly caused by a witch in their ranks. (Pearson 302 – 3)

When the inquisitors were in search of a “witch”, one could be found quite readily. More often than not, the accused was just a woman that someone had a grudge against. Many also speculated that these “witches” might have been highly learned women, such as early scientists. Because of the ridiculous information contained in the Malleus Maleficarum on how to proceed with the “trials” of the accused, there generally was “no mistake” of finding them guilty. Guilty women and a few men as well, were relatively few in the colonies of America. On the other hand, in Europe the numbers of the accused were astronomical. Imagine the amount of people that lost their lives due to the feelings of resentment of some sort or other, such as the amount of land they owned or a person’s general success. Many Wiccans and Pagans feel that the amount of people who were actually true witches during these “trials” was closer to none. (Gibson 112 – 18)

The final main reason that I would like to point out for the attraction of Wicca and Paganism is the attraction of the supernatural. While Pagans and Wiccans accept the belief in an unseen world, forces, and entities, many, if not all, Christian churches, in these modern times, ignore this belief. In many cases, a person could stir up quite a bit of trouble for themselves by stating a belief in an unseen world in the Christian church. (Sanders 23 – 26)

Reading ones future by using tarot cards and runes are very popular forms of divination among Pagans and Wiccans. There are many other popular forms of divination and occult sciences such as the use of crystals. Even though many of these beliefs forms were allowed by Christianity in their early years of development, now these systems have no place in Christianity. Many people have speculated when and why this shift occurred. Modern science has been trying to validate these occult sciences for quite some time now, but with limited success. The simple fact that the occult sciences are being tested gives valid support in their existence. (Handbook of Contemporary 425)

There are still many things in the world that can’t be explained by modern science. In the acknowledgement of this fact is where modern Pagans revel. It still gives room for belief in the ideas of fairies, mythical beings, and other such beliefs.

Discussions of the supernatural will quickly conjure up visions and ideas in relation to recent popular movies such as Harry Potter, The Seeker, Lord of the Rings, and many, many other movies. While these movies and books quickly catch the imagination, their similarities to actual supernatural occurrences are very, very limited. For the most part, these movies and books are purely fantasy. Even so, there have been some Christian based groups that are in opposition of these forms of entertainment. They believe that it sways people, especially children, to take an interest in Wicca and Paganism. (Handbook of New 459 – 60)

As Catherine Edwards Sanders, a Christian journalist, points out, “most Wiccans [and Pagans] have thought more seriously about spirituality and some of life’s big questions than many in the secular and even Christian cultures. They have not been content to skate through life seeking the gods of fashion, peer pressure, or materialism, reserving religion for weekends and special holidays.” (30)

Most Pagans and Wiccans actually view their lives as being interconnected with the rest of the world as a whole. They realize that there are, in fact, fewer events in their lives through this interconnection with the rest of the world.

With the impending end of the Mayan calendar in 2012, there have been many theories in reference to the end of the world. In fact, recently the “dooms day” movies have been coming out more and more frequently. One can only speculate that as 2012 draws nearer, the apocalyptic world movies and theories will by coming out at a frantic pace.

In the Wiccan and Pagan groups though, ideas of the world coming to an end are not so prevalent. Many think that the date of 12 December 2012 will be a beginning of a ‘New World Age.’ Many experts believe that this will be an age of peace and interconnection with the rest of the world and beyond for the next 5, 200 years. The experts are also saying that the ‘veil’ that separates our world from the spirit world will be lifted. The descendents of the Ancient Mayan’s say that we are already in the twenty – five year timeline of this change. (Rennison np.)

This information of the coming change according to the Mayan calendar is something that modern Pagans and Wiccans are looking forward to.

In conclusion, is there a rise in the Wicca and Pagan belief system? Given the research, the answer would definitely be a resounding yes. The movement is very broad and difficult to pin down, but it has been noticed. Many authors and professionals are calling on others to try and do research on the subject. With others taking an interest in the movement, maybe someone or maybe a group of individuals will come forward with some new views or theories on this movement. With these new views and theories we can only hope to find a definite reason for this shift.

Until then, there will be many I’m sure who will take on this daunting task. There are hundreds of theories already studied or in the process of being studied. I’m sure that there are many other ideas out there that have not yet been discussed or found in the public forum. With the case of the ancient Mayans, their descendants have said that there is plenty more information that they are in possession of, but have yet to let the rest of the world know about it. Whether there is more information yet to come remains to be seen.

I’m sure that there other ancient civilizations out there that have possessed knowledge or information, now lost. Unfortunately, just as these civilizations have disappeared, so has their immediate knowledge of this information. They did leave behind recordings of information that are in the processes of being deciphered and theories investigated. The only problem is that many individuals in the modern world have a very difficult time believing what the ancients were saying. This in turn leads to very different ideas in what is being told, many times the information is right there, but many misinterpret the information only because the obvious is just too difficult to comprehend.



Footnotes:
Works Cited:

Adler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America. New York: Penguin (Non-Classics) , 2006. Print.
Berger, Helen A., Evan A. Leach, and Leigh S. Shaffer. Voices from the Pagan Census A National Survey of Witches and Neo-Pagans in the United States (Studies in Comparative Religion) . New York: University of South Carolina, 2003. Print.
Clifton, Chas S. Her Hidden Children: the Rise of Wicca and Paganism in America. Lanham: AltaMira, 2006. Print.
Gibson, Marion H. Witchcraft Myths in American Culture. New York: Routledge, 2007. Print.
Handbook of New Age (Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion) . New York: Brill Academic, 2007. Print.
Handbook of Contemporary Paganism (Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion) . New York: Brill Academic, 2009. Print.
Harvey, Graham. Contemporary Paganism Listening People, Speaking Earth. New York: NYU, 2000. Print.
Pearson, Joanne. Belief Beyond Boundaries Wicca, Celtic Spirituality and the New Age (Religion Today-Tradition, Modernity and Change) . Grand Rapids: Ashgate, 2002. Print.
Sanders, Catherine. Wicca’s Charm Understanding the Spiritual Hunger Behind the Rise of Modern Witchcraft and Pagan Spirituality. Wheaton: Shaw, 2005. Print.
“Susan Rennison’s Website.” Susan Joy Rennison’s Website. Web. 18 Dec. 2009. .

You, Your God, and Your Future

Author: Frost
I have been with the Pagan community for nearly a decade, notably unguided. I have been fortunate to find friends who are Pagan or open to pagan thought. In that time, I have become a mentor to many of them.

Our Coven recently went through an ideological split during a time when we were trying to restructure. This split made some things better and some things worse.

Throughout the split and in the time since, many of the members have been struggling with their faith. I had been doing the best I could to regain some manner of order, to prevent the crisis of faith that would allow such a split to happen; but I ultimately failed. As such, I was stuck with many practitioners looking for something to do and a declining faith to do it with.

As a result, I sent out the following, and after realizing that others in the community may need to hear these words, I have chosen to also post it here:

I feel compelled to say something as many have made it known they are feeling low. There is but one thing that has remained true for me these past nine years, the nine years which I have followed my path. That one thing is this: my life, however meaningless, mundane, boring, and painful it is now, will come to mean something in the end.

What I mean to say is this: You have been placed upon this earth for a reason. That reason is known to someone but will be kept from you until the time of your death. I believe that at this point, you will reflect upon that life and come to the same understanding that so many before have. That understanding will be unique to you and your own experience, but will go something like this:

I made a difference. I changed a life, and so, I changed the world.

How have you changed someone today? Have you yet or will it be later in the day? Did you teach them a skill, or help them with a task? Did you learn something that will later save lives?

When it all seems so pointless to you, think about the bigger picture.

I once found myself asking my God for just one thing: There are very few things that we do in life that we set out to do. In the end, it’s the little things that gain us the profound legacy that we all yearn for. The one thing that we all manage is the one that we may never see. That achievement is the difference that we make in another human being.

If in your life, you make a difference in one person’s life, then you may die with a legacy. If we teach a skill we leave a larger legacy. If we listen to a problem, we have created a solution. It’s the little difference that we make that lend a hand to large means.

If there were one thing that I could ask my lord for, one thing above all else, it would be to make a difference, if only one person at a time. I would die having been fulfilled in life. The difference is my wish, my dream, and my will.

In a bit more specific request, I will leave you with this: I was born and baptized Lutheran, and still hold some beliefs of that faith. Jehovah and I still chat about my problems, but Odin has taken me in and taught me.

The relationship you have with your god is personal, on which is never to be questioned by another. But we are complex individuals, and just as we have a handful of doctors for each special problem, we too have a hand full of gods waiting to grant us powers. So long as we believe in them then the depth of the relationship is irrelevant. The links exist.

Faith, and in turn religion, exist in a part of us that is neither logical nor understandable. Our Gods make it logical and understandable. They help to fill the void we feel, the feeling of security, feelings of safety. Next time you are alone and afraid, feel the presence of your God all around you and experience a new feeling of safety.

It is safety and security that we all yearn for. The millionaire behind the multi million dollar security system has the same security that I have with my God. Odin has my back, so to speak. That’s not to say that he will never let me get hurt, never let me feel sorrow. He will not save me from the grasp of all things evil. He will keep me safe though, when it counts.

That narrow miss by the car on the road, running five minutes late and avoiding a wreck. He will keep me safe when it counts.

One thing we must all remember is that the love that our hearts have for our Gods must not be perfect, but it must be forgiving. Our Gods have Their purpose for us and They will get us there however best They can. We just need to have faith in the end and the means will fall in to place.

For those of you clutching at straws, examine what you have done, and what you can be doing.

For those of you clutching at faith, keep with it and it will keep with you.

From one troubled person to another, blessed be on this night.

This message was just what my practitioners need to pick up the pieces and get back together. I felt it was important to share this with the rest of you and maybe I can help some one else.

Our future lies with in our Gods and us.

My legacy is still to be writ as is all of ours. Let us then be together in our community of faith. I hope this allows someone to make the decision they had been putting off.

‘Till I find deem it necessary to write again,

Blessed Be

Frost
The Covenant
Order of the Gual
Temple of Odin

Crafting The Spell: Laying The Groundwork

Spells function best when some sort of context exists for them in which to manifest. Have you acted in the physical world to work on the situation you intend to address with a spell? Spells will not solve your problems for you. They will help, but leaving them to function without putting any other effort in on your end reduces the chances of the spell coming to successful fruition. Would you cast a spell to pass an exam for an area of study with which you had no experience? What would be the point of that?

Crafting The Spell: A Need or Desire

A need or desire has every right to be met, whether it’s a need for a scholarship to enable you to study at the postgraduate level, or a desire for the traffic light to change so that you can cross the intersection to walk on the sunny side of the street. That need or desire is, the first requirement in order for a spell to exist. If you don’t have a need or a desire, don’t waste your time. Spellcraft isn’t something to pass the hours, or an art to practice on a whim. It’s a powerful force for transformation and change, requiring your dedication and involvement. Crafting and casting a spell requires time, focus, great concentration and energy, and if you’re doing it on a whim, you’re going to a lot of trouble for nothing. Emotion is one of the key concepts that powers a spell, and a whim just doesn’t have the depth of emotion required. In addition, there’s the issue of responsibility. If you ask for it, you’re responsible for it.

Neo-Paganism: What is it?

Neo-Paganism: What is it?

Author: Crick

Neo-Paganism. What is it?

There is an old adage that no one is an island unto himself or herself. Which I believe is a prelude to the adage that misery loves company.

As a witch I walk this world as one who truly feels alone. Am I an island? Absolutely not, just a tired old soul who sees the world as it truly is.

I see the same level of hypocrisy within the pagan community as I see in the organized religions perhaps because so many who call themselves pagan today were members of those organized religions yesterday. Or perhaps it’s just because people in general tend to be apathetic when it comes to any real effort to grow spiritually.

I see the same insecurities in folks regardless of their chosen beliefs. By insecurities I refer to the way that folks claim to be individuals and yet they live and die each day by what others are doing and/or say. Such folks spend more of their time making judgments about others then they do asking how they can better themselves spiritually.

And so in general, we as a species continue to mouth the words and yet do just the opposite.
There are those who claim to be pagan and yet spend most of their time increasing the artificial lifestyle they have created for themselves. They do this knowing full well that such an artificial lifestyle comes at the expense of Mother Gaia. Raping and pillaging Mother Gaia is something that the human species is very adept at. If only so much time and effort were directed at improving the condition of our world. But then to do that we as a species would have to stop being so self centered and selfish and actually live up to the values that we claim to engage.
And so exactly what defines Neo-Paganism in today’s world?

Is it simply a way of being different in ones mind and yet the same in ones actions? Much like the teenager of every single generation who seeks to establish an individual identity even though in all reality they are following the same trail already unfolded before them.

Is Neo-Paganism, which in all reality is a revival of that which existed openly before the advent of organized religion, a true attempt to break away from the established mode of society as it presents itself today?

Do those who call themselves pagan in today’s world have the desire and discipline to break away from the established mindset?

After all, such folks come from a society where no one is to blame, unless it is the other guy who is at fault. They come from a world where the ego seems to reign supreme over human humility. Even though such displays of egotism is simply an acknowledgement of ones personal insecurities.

In some parts of the pagan community, paganism is used to control the hearts and minds of others in much the same way that organized religions attempt to do so. There are certain pagan groups who seek to set themselves as above others who reside under the same pagan umbrella. Is such personal control over others and elitism the definition of Neo-Paganism?

Do folks in today’s mystical society have any established concept of what it is that they believe in as pagans?

Judging from all of the maneuvering to be seen as the “master” by so many who really have no clue, and judging from all of the infighting amongst various pagan individuals and groups, one has to wonder if there is any coherent concept that one could apply to the description; Neo-Pagan.

Such a general concept should apply not only in description but in action as well. Granted there are “individuals” who walk the walk, but these folks are often set upon by those who claim to follow the same tenets as they apply to the general parameters of paganism. And so the hypocrisy continues unabated, for these folks are within the minority of a minority belief system.

And so one has to wonder if Neo-Paganism is truly an effort to establish a nature based belief system which is empowered by a people who actually put forth effort to acquire a higher sense of self. Or is it just a continuation of the same lack of principles and personal discipline that defines modern society, albeit under a different title.

I personally believe that the jury is still out on this last musing. In my personal opinion, if one is to follow the path of paganism in whatever form, then one needs to develop a sense of unbiased honesty. For in my mind, true paganism begins with one’s own spirit. There are no masters in this weary world of ours. We are all simply students of life, each seeking the lessons that befit them. Perhaps once we realize this we can begin the real work of identifying our own faults and worry less about the faults of others. Only then will we be able to separate ourselves from the status quo of today’s world and perhaps then we can add a real meaning to the definition of Neo-Paganism.

Are you one of those who believe that Neo-Paganism is all about Light and Love? Are you being realistic to yourself? For in all reality our pagan ancestors were quite adept at mayhem and war. One has to realize that there has to be dark in order for there to be light. This is polarity in its truest form. And even the various pantheons around the world contain those who were of an unsavory nature. It is how we balance these two aspects that define our lives regardless of which path we choose to follow. But one without the other is simply an empty facade.

In closing, how many hours this past week did you sit in front of a TV or a computer? How many hours this past week did you walk amongst the trees and listen to the birds sing or gaze up at the moon at night with unadulterated love? It is by these simple actions that we as “individuals” contribute to the definition of Neo-Paganism.

Are you content with your contribution?

Blessings

Crick