A Pagan Students Bill of Rights

A PAGAN STUDENT’S BILL OF RIGHTS

1. You have a right to the quality of education commensurate with the medians in similar education for others in your chosen area. Check several teachers or schools to find just what those medians are considered to be.

Corollary: You do not have the right to expect your teacher to be a “SuperPriest/ess” who will fulfill your every need, want and desire. Today, many are advertising themselves as “teachers” with little more than a few years experience themselves, much of which may be book learning. Truly experienced Elders and “Grand Masters” are exceedingly few and far between. Consider yourself astoundingly fortunate if your teacher falls into this category, but within reason, expect a teacher of Paganism to be human and fallible – resolve for yourself to learn what you can from the situation you are in.

2. The terms of your education shall be agreed upon in advance of its commencement by mutual contract between both teacher and student. Either party may at any time with prior advance notice, rescind said contract. Don’t accept an amorphous “well, we’ll just take it easy and see what happens” approach. You have the right to know exactly what to expect in terms of time, commitment and subjects learned.

Corollary: You may not drop out of tutorial with a teacher without making a reasonable attempt at telling them why you are feeling uncomfortable enough to do so. Be specific, they need to know how their behavior affected you and your potential for learning from them.

3. You have the right to expect a teacher who is compassionate, has a good sense of humor, has respect for you and others and who has a healthy level of self- esteem. A good teacher will admit when s/he is wrong in the moment and will usually heark back to their own novice days with anecdotes of their own trial and error to share with you. A good teacher knows how to maintain the delicate balance between friendship and appropriate discipline.

Corollary: Any teacher who projects as “too perfect” definitely isn’t. Beware also the teacher who is continually in a state of personal woe – these people need too much of your energy that you won’t have to give them. Walk out the door and keep searching.

4. You have the right for the teacher to always be truthful with you. Choose teachers whose styles permit you to question freely, who “lead by example” and show you as well as tell you the things you are learning. You can’t learn herbalism solely by reading books, some day you have to get out into the garden and root in the dirt. Look for a teacher, whatever their specialty, who does the equivalent in their particular form of practice.

Corollary: Beware of teachers whose main boast is how many books they’ve read, or that all of their knowledge is “book learned”. Such teachers will not be giving you anything authentic that you cannot learn on your own from the same books. A person “teaching” like this is perpetrating little short of plagiarism. To bring in the danger factor, you do not want someone “teaching” you the art of soul travel/astral projection who has never really done it themself. Don’t be someone else’s guinea pig. A teacher is a rich resource not only of the literary materials they have consumed, but of their own experiences: those triumphs, failures and illuminating moments of true enlightenment that cannot be learned from any book in print.

5. You have the right to expect your teacher to hold a broad education themselves, with specialty areas in which they might be considered to hold above-average knowledge. Anyone purporting to be a teacher of Witchcraft, Shamanism or one of the other forms of Paganism is held to a standard of excellence in their own community, and usually will have specialised in some branch or another of its components. Bonus points to a teacher who has cross- cultural initiations or similar expertise/other cultural referents to draw from. A broad educational base generally lends another primary desired quality of a good teacher: a broad mind.

Corollary: Ask your teacher to name their teachers or others in the community who know them, and talk to them before signing on to that particular teacher’s list. You may find they have an expertise in permaculture, spellcasting or soul retrieval – or you may discover knowledge that might lead you in another direction. It never hurts as a consumer of a service, to obtain references.

6. You have the right to expect discipline from your teacher. You have the right to expect that they will not let you get away with slackness in your learning, presentation or commission of your duties to them. When learning, expect no less than to apply yourself with the diligence most would reserve for a graduate school degree. A good teacher does their own research and give credit where it is due – expect the same of yourself. Be on time; ahead of time even, for lessons and coven/circle activities as your teacher should. Do one more bit of homework than is expected of you. Expect no less than excellence of yourself and you will be richly rewarded.

Corollary: You have the right to expect your teacher to be firm, but flexible within reason. Teachers should be expected to keep their committments to you as you do to them. Overly regimented structures are not conducive to learning, although sometimes in some traditions, such strictures may be put into place specifically to challenge you and help you grow. Look for teachers who walk the balance between firm and flexible for the best learning environment.

7. You have the right to expect change. Do not expect a smooth ride. Life is its own powerful teacher – learning the arts of Shamanism or Witchcraft are seriously advanced study in the crafting of your own soul. By virtue of this process, your issues will be brought out into the open and you will be expected to deal with them and act/react accordingly. How you react will be noted by your teacher and you can expect to have such reactions become the topic of discussion for your further growth. You have the right to expect during these “spiritual crises” for your teacher/s to be there for you to consult, lean on just a little bit and to provide you resources for getting through. You do NOT however, have the right to call the teacher in the wee hours every night of the week with a new crisis, to monopolize your teacher’s time for weeks on end due to a major crisis or series of smaller ones. Some support is to be expected from a teacher, but not unlimited support. Ask prior to your training what level of support the teacher is comfortable giving you and adhere to that. Know also when to refer yourself to a competent psychotherapist or healer. And if your teacher suggests you do so, take their advice without quibble. Clinginess from crisis-prone students who do not engage competent healing staff at the appropriate times is one of the behaviors that can be incredibly abusive of the teacher. If such clinginess is particularly time and energy consuming, it may cause the teacher to end their relationship with you.

Corollary: Your teacher does not have the right to use information concerning your spiritual crises against you, or to pass you off without seriously attempting to help you. Any teacher who does this you should immediately disengage from. Such a person is not the one to be trusting with your soul and your psyche as is required from a teacher of the metaphysical arts.

8. You have the right to be listened to, to have your questions answered and the right to expect a reasonable amount of your teacher’s time for the discussion of issues you might have with your training, different areas you wish to explore, etcetera. A good teacher like a good psychologist learns to listen more than talk in order to know what is important and relevant to you, the better to help them custom-craft your learning experience. Walk away from teachers who refuse you time to state your concerns, pooh-pooh your questions or who motormouth over your every utterance.

9. At the appropriate time, you have the right to expect your teacher to either inform you that it is time for you to move on into your own practice, or to be open to your suggesting something similar to them. A good teacher expects their students to mature and progress beyond them and will be quite pleased for you when this happens.

Corollary: Any teacher who keeps you hanging on indefinitely for initiation, advancement, further training et. al. with prolonged and continual protestations of “you’re not ready!” when you know you are is not behaving in a mature manner. If it gets to this point, leave and seek those who will support your spiritual growth and advancement.

Animals as Spirit Guides

Animals as Spirit Guides

 

(excerpted from Animal Spirit Guides by Dr. Steven  Farmer)

Those spirits that are in animal form that teach us, guide us, empower us,  and help us heal are called animal spirit guides or spirit  animals. In shamanic and indigenous cultures they’re usually called  totem animals or power animals. Often these terms are used  interchangeably, although there are subtle differences in meaning.

The term totem animal has two meanings. First, a totem animal is  typically one that is shared by a family, clan, or group. In indigenous  cultures, the family you were born into all have a totem animal in common. In  modern societies, various groups also have communal totems, such as sports teams  or clubs that identify with a totem animal. A second meaning of totem animal is  a representational object of a particular animal, like a small tortoise, owl,  raccoon, or hawk figurines. We often give our children totem animals, like teddy  bears or bunny rabbits to give them comfort.

The term power animal has its origins in shamanism. This is a  specialized animal spirit guide the shaman or shamanic practitioner acquires  early in their initiation into their practice. Their power animal travels with  them whenever they go on a shamanic journey, which is an altered state of  awareness in which the practitioner sends his soul or consciousness into  non-ordinary reality—another term for the spirit world—to receive teachings,  guidance, and healings. You can, however, have a relationship with a power  animal even if you’re not a shaman or shamanic practitioner. They may come to  you in meditations, visions, dreams, or shamanic journeys. It’s a highly  personal and specialized relationship with an animal spirit guide, one where the  personality and characteristics of the particular power animal that you have  attracted to you are reflective of your own personality and characteristics.

Although every creature on the planet can be an animal spirit guide, in some  traditions domesticated animals can’t be power animals because they’ve lost much  of their wildness and are removed from the natural world. Likewise, some  traditions believe that insects are to be excluded from being power animals  because of their size and nature. I have, however, included both domesticated  animals and some insects such as butterfly and dragonfly my book, and even two  mythological animals, dragon and unicorn, to account for those who have enough  of a special relationship with them to call them power animals.

However to experience the tremendous value of working with animal spirit  guides you don’t need to be a shaman, have any interest in shamanism, nor be  associated with an indigenous culture. For most purposes you don’t even need to  be concerned as to whether an animal spirit guide is a totem or power animal.  Instead, consider these wonderful beings as spiritual allies that want to reach  out to each and everyone one of us who are open to their guidance and, when  called with sincere intent, will respond.

One of the great advantages of working with animal spirit guides is that the  actual animal is physically and symbolically present in so many ways throughout  every society and culture on earth. Because of their abundant representations in  third-dimensional reality, they’re continually in our consciousness. Depending  on how and in what way they show up in the material world, whether in the flesh  or as a symbol, their appearance can be  a representative of the spirit of  that animal. When an animal shows up in an uncommon way or repetitively as  spirit guide, that animal isn’t just the single animal, but is representing the  entire species. The hummingbird that flits about and then hovers for several  seconds directly in front of you isn’t just a hummingbird but is carrying with  her the essence of all hummingbirds, and is therefore Hummingbird with  a capital “H.” That’s also why when we speak of an animal spirit guide, we leave  out the “a” or “an” as a way of recognizing and honoring that spirit animal. The  hawk that visited me wasn’t only a hawk, but in those instances was representing  the essence of all hawks, and was therefore Hawk.

Not only do these spirit animals help us in many ways, but another positive  effect is that you’ll deepen your appreciation for the magic and mystery of all  animals, whether they are of the air, water, or the land. Every being on this  beautiful and majestic planet has its place in the web of life, and as we  develop our consciousness and awareness of the unique quality of animal spirit  guides, we enhance our relationships with all of our animal brothers and  sisters.

 

Ancestors, Ancestors, We Are Calling

Ancestors, Ancestors, We Are Calling

 

Ancestors, ancestors, we are calling

Ancestors, ancestors,  hear our call

Sing or chant the above words for at least four rounds, as you stand in honor  of the ancestors to welcome them. As you do, create a simple gesture to welcome  the ancestors, such as prayer hands over the heart, or raised to the heavens.  Ask your body to help you create it and include some form of movement. Have fun  with it but also be focused on the welcome. Try it and see what happens.

This is a way of including those humans in your family lineage that have come  before you and whose genetic and soul influence has a great deal to do with who  you are today, those we can call ancestors. Even your deceased parents are your  ancestors.

These progenitors have experienced what it’s like to have had their energy in  an animate, physical human form. They continue on with their teachings in spirit  world, evolving spiritually beyond what we in physical bodies can even imagine,  though some have touched this world through meditations, revelations, near-death  experiences, or shamanic journeys from the point of death.

If you aren’t already including ancestors when you call on spirit guides,  please do. They want to help us and do avail themselves to us of their wisdom  and understanding. Don’t get me wrong; they aren’t all saints, but they  understand and experience things much differently once in spirit form. The  wisest ancestors are the oldest ones, yet even recent passage into the spirit  world offers a considerable dose of wisdom that they are more than happy to  bring to you. They also can guide and protect you if asked.

We are in a time of critical change and need all the help we can get from the  world of Spirit. The planet doesn’t need saving. We just need to revise our  relationship with this planet and live much more harmoniously with her cycles.  And we’re doing the best we can. Just need the help of the ancestors.

 

THE CRAFT AND THE HEALING ARTS

THE CRAFT AND THE HEALING ARTS

Pagans/witches have a wide variety of healing techniques in their
arsenal.  The healing arts encompass the magical and medicinal herbalisms,
shamanistic practices (roughly speaking, using the powers of a spirit
guide), the raising of energy directed towards the patient (cone of power,
creative visualization, etc.), “direct” intercession with the gods, and
standard medical practices (Western medicine, Oriental medicine.)
An effective healing may be any combination of the above, depending on
circumstances.
Several rules of ethics govern the use of the healing arts.  These
follow, along with a few suggestions that may prove useful to the
practicioners of the healing arts:

*If a circumstance calls for standard Western medicine, do not ignore
this in favor of other methods of healing.  Any “witch” who tells you that
his/her treatment is only valid if one stops taking prescribed medicine, or
forgoes recommended surgery should be reported to the local Better Business
Bureau, post haste.  Either they do not realize that the magical methods can
complement “modern” methods, or they are (more likely) con artists.  Stop
them before they hurt someone else, in some cases, fatally.  There is a case
in New Jersey of someone who halted her insulin treatments by the order of a
“witch”, as proof that she had “faith” in that “witch’s” treatment.  Those
pagans who are M.D.’s see no substitution for standard medical practices.
Rather, other workings may be seen as supplementations.  This cannot be
stressed enough.

*Avoid charging for healings.  Certainly, reimbursement for equipment
used is valid, but charging for healings is both unethical and can get one
in trouble with the law, for practicing medicine without a license.  Now,
there is much debate within the Pagan community over charging for magical
services of whatever kind; but it seems to me to be a cheapening of the gift
to charge for it.

*Never heal someone without their consent.  Reasons a person may not
give his/her consent are varied, and must be considered.  Respect the wishes
of others.  One may, however, heal those for whom there is no way to ask
consent — if someone is in a coma, it is permissible to work a direct
healing upon that person.  I find that, for people I cannot mention Craft
healing work to, for one reason or another, that sending healing energy to
the VICINITY of that person is ethical.  The person is then free, on a lower
or subconscious level, to take in that energy (in whatever form they can use
it) or to reject it.  The energy is simply made available for their use,
interpretable by their psyches, and usable according to their own Will.  To
force healing upon someone, whatever your intent, interferes with the other
person’s freedom of choice, unethical in itself, and will have unfavorable
repercussions both for you and for that other person.  You might, for
instance, become the sort of person who Presumes to know what is Good For
Everyone Else, and you might have a good future as a book-burner (at least
in spirit).

*Some people seem to have more of a knack with the non-standard healing
arts than others.  Those people who are the best healers are not necessarily
in the best graces with their god/goddess.  Just because a person can heal
does not imply that their theo/a/logy is the best.  Much of non-traditional
haling may tap into some of the same wellsprings, but healing in and of
itself does not guarantee religious correctness.  Some healers, indeed, are
only marginally religious.  (Obviously, the same applies to MD’s.)

*A healer using herbs has the responsibility of knowing about the herbs
he or she uses.  There are many contradictory statements in the literature,
and there are some herbs that should not be taken in large concentrations;
and there are some herbs that should not be taken by pregnant women or
nursing mothers.  A herbalist should learn the literature, and learn to
distrust literature that does not list contraindications.  Some herbs
recommended in the literature are, frankly, mere superstitions.  Others have
indeed proved effective, and some of these have even passed on to Western
medical practice (digitalis, for instance).

*Those using creative visualization are advised to visualize the
patient as being healthy and happy.  Avoid, while doing the working,
visualizing the patient in his current sick or unhealthy state.  Sometimes
it helps to imagine the patient doing something he or she enjoys doing.

*In creative visualization/cone of power methods the patient may be
present, or may be absent.  It helps, if the patient is present, to touch
the patient directly and gently.

*Those using shamanistic techniques should be well-grounded in such
techniques.  They should have gone on various shamanistic journeys
themselves, and have overcome obstacles on such journeys.  This is in order
that one might be confident and capable during the ordeal of shamanistic
healing.

*After doing energy raising and/or shamanistic techniques of healing,
be very certain to “ground out”.  Shamanism has some of its own techniques,
but after Craft-style healings one method is to lay one’s hands forcibly on
the ground (or floor), exhaling deeply, feeling the excess power returning
to the Earth.

*As a healer, remember that a person’s sickness is not some sort of
supernatural punishment for something he has or has not done.  It is not
your position as healer to cast that sort of judgement.  There are some who
would disagree with me on this, but these are the same sorts who would
reckon AIDS to be a karmic punishment, or who would reckon the starvation in
Ethiopia to be another sort of karmic punishment.

*Know your level of competence.  If you are asked to do a healing, and
you are competent, and the person is sensible about seeking standard medical
help if appropriate; and/or if standard medical help is not helping, it is
in your position to render such aid as you are competent to render.

*No matter how you do whatever it is that you do concerning healing, a
proper “bedside manner” must be more than cultivated; it must be believed.

*Western culture is beginning to realize that standard medicine cannot
solve all illnesses.  Hence, the advent of hospices.  Non-standard healing
practices are (or should be) well-grounded in the notion that not every
ailment, disease, or illness can be cured.  It is a heavy responsibility
upon the healer to deal with this realization.  The pagan religions see
birth, life, and death as an acceptable and natural cycle.  At some time, a
pagan healer will likely come face to face with the notion of mortality;
with the notion that there are patients, despite all skill and caring, that
cannot be cured.  Depending upon the ailment, the healer must know how to
react.  This is true, of course, for even standard MD practice.  At a
certain point, the wholistic/pagan healer must accept the inevitability of
failure; possibly even the inevitability of death.  At such point, whatever
techniques the healer knows for bestowing a sense of tranquility to the
patient are appropriate.  Healing energy may be sent; sent to comfort and
confer the peace of mind essential for a good transition between life and
death.  It is also beneficial if people close to the patient relate to the
patient on a day-to-day basis of support and encouragement, allowing that
person to express whatever he or she needs to express.  Similar energy and
support, sent to a person to help them deal with a permanent but non-fatal
disability, is also appropriate.  Patients require confidence and strength
in such situations, and these may be reinforced in a number of ways, both
magical and day-to-day.

*Remember, take a lot of healing practices with a grain of salt.
Filipino spirit surgery I’d take with a whole bushel.

*One should also be aware of the values of preventative medicine.

– Jehana.  Distribute freely if copied in entirity –

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.

WHAT CAN ANIMAL GUIDES DO– AND HOW DO I WORK WITH THEM????

WHAT CAN ANIMAL GUIDES DO– AND HOW DO I WORK WITH THEM????

Animal guides can help you in many areas of you life whether they are of the
physical or astral plane.

They can help focus and raise the energy of a ritual or magickal circle.

They can protect you in your dreams, meditations and quests, as well as in the real world.

They can teach you how to take on their abilities through shapeshifting.

They can help you learn to take yourself less seriously (or more so if needed).

A guide can be your friend, confidant, sister, brother, teacher… They can be
playful, loving, protective and supportive. They will change and grow with you throughout your life.

You work with spirit guides the same way you work with anyone else, ask them for help, advice, or support, whatever you need. They will decide if they will do what you ask.

If it is for the best they will almost always help.

To talk with a guide, do a visualization in which you call to them.

They will come if they choose.

If they do not, try again later or try to work out the problem on your own.

If your guide is a physical one just talk with it. It will help if it chooses.

Talk with your guide. Ask it to teach you. Get to know your guide as you would get to know any close friend. Spend time with it.

You will learn how to work with it as you get to know each other, as you learn to become a team and understand each others needs.

Just remember to always, always, treat your guide with respect and gratitude for the help it gives.

DO YOU KNOW YOUR ANIMAL TOTEMS?

DO YOU KNOW YOUR ANIMAL TOTEMS?
The following is from Animal Speak by Ted Andrews

Begin the process of discovering your animal totems by examining the animals you have been most interested in & the times of your life that interest was piqued. Use the following questions to help determine which animals are probably totems to you in your life.

1. Which animal or bird has always fascinated you? (We are drawn to that which most resonates with us. Those animals which fascinate us have something to teach us.)

2. When you visit the zoo, which animal do you wish to visit the most or first?(esp. children)

3. What animal(s) do you see most frequently when you are out in nature? Have you had encounters with animals in the wild? (The animals we encounter, in their city environments or in the wild, have significance for us. We can learn from them, even if only about survival within that environment.)

4. Of all the animals in the world, which are you most interested in now? (Our interests in animals change. Yes, we usually have one or two that are lifetime, power animals, but others become prominent when there is something importance or specific to teach us.)

5. What animal most frightens you? (That which we fear the most is often
something we must learn to come to terms with. When we do that, it then becomes a power. Some shamans believe that fears will take the shape of animals, and only when we confront them without fear do their powers/medicine work for us instead of against us. Such an animal become a shadow totem.)

6. Have you ever been bitten or attacked by an animal? (Historically, if a
shaman survived an attack, it was believed that the animal was the shaman’s
spirit totem and the attack was the totem’s way of testing the shaman’s ability to handle the power.)

7. Do you have dreams with animals in them or are there animal dreams you have never forgotten? (This is especially important if the dreams are recurring or if at least the animal image in the dream is a recurring one. Children often dream of animals, & attention should be given to these animals. They will often reflect specific spirit totems of the child.)

How Do You Like Your Pagan? Straight Up or Blended?

How Do You Like Your Pagan? Straight Up or Blended?

Author: Avren

I was recently the butt of a joke. I know this happens to lots of folks, no matter what their theology. What ticked me off though was the fact that my theology was what the jerks were pointing fun at. Some pagans enjoy being a spectacle, and still more are just damned proud (and not afraid to let you know it) of their faith. I too am proud of who I am, and what I believe. I take my faith seriously, and DO NOT like to have it blown off or laughed at. So I blend.

I’m sure lots of us blend, and blend well. Blending in is what saved your neck, and flesh in the not so distant past. These days there are hate crimes; no doubt man seems to never run out of reasons to hate each other. What you find more and more though, is discrimination, and/or the assumption that you are a flaky, feather brained hippy.

Now I know it could be worse. I could be tortured and/or burned at the stake a few lifetimes ago, but it’s still annoying! I don’t like the silly superstitions people have or the down right misinformation. When cornered by simpletons who think their path is the “one true path to god” I love to put them in their place with a simple history lesson. Or one of my personal favorites: quoting the Bible to thwart them. In the end though, I am too busy to debate the universe day in and day out. Talk about exhausting!

This particular person only found out about my spiritual preferences because he is a friend of my love’s. He came over for dinner and saw some books I have sitting on the bottom shelf of my coffee table. Every time I see him he has a new snide or smart-a** comment. I thought I’d be smart-a** too.

After one of his comments one day I asked if he worshipped Buddha. He just shook his head and I said that it certainly looked that way. (He is pushing 400 lbs and 5’10) Unfortunately, that didn’t work, and I felt guilty for acting just like him instead.

I don’t wear a pentagram; instead I wear a triquetra that is two inches high. I just love it, and it gets compliments from everyone I meet. I love when they ask if it has a special meaning. I always answer yes! I wear regular make up in natural tones.

I work 8-5 Monday through Friday. My home is warm and welcoming. There isn’t a noticeable altar anywhere. There is a 12-inch tall star hanging in my kitchen, and a moon as well. I have a gold and silver candle on each side of my kitchen sink.

No one knows the 4-foot high metal sculpture of a willow that hangs in my kitchen is a sign of the Mother. Nor do they see the candles and celestial design in my kitchen as my altar, and sign of love to the Lord and Lady. (Can you see the Kitchen Witchery here? LOL!)

When one of the dearest friends I have was going through a tough time, she happened to mention she was interested in stones and their symbolism. She also mentioned having strong feelings for Shamanism. So I asked if she would like some of the leopard skin jasper I had, and a couple other stones I thought she might like. She was thrilled! I was too; I have known her 25 out of 27 years of my life. Now was the first time I could talk about my spiritual side with her. She had lots of questions, and carries the stones everyday!

So you get the idea of how well I blend in? I made an agreement with my beloved when we first started dating. I would keep my books and obvious craft stuff out of sight of his two young children. I agreed readily because I was in my late teens before I could grasp that this is not a satanic path.

I figure that subtly dropping hints and blending it in slowly is best anyhow. Heck, I didn’t even realize I was learning the Old Ways from my grandmothers and mother until I was already well used to it. The kids request ’Wytches Chant 98’ all the time, without knowing that is the name. They only know that they love it. As a matter of fact we listen to that band often. They love it, and I think that it opens their minds a little.

My beloved is not Pagan, though he has picked up some of my “witchy ways” as he calls it. He even had some runes tattooed on his inner arm. They are like armor to him he says. They make him feel protected, and mark the important points on his journey. The other arm is going to be health and spiritual runes. He has told me that I am a good “Ambassador” for Pagans. He says he would never have taken me seriously, or be willing to venture down his spiritual path this far if I had been as “Loud and Proud.”

So, back to the frustration. I am not ashamed of who I am. I don’t like probing questions either. (Picture sneering face here.) I am open to those who are REAL. I feel like I do more good this way anyhow. When I explain the possible meanings of the Trinity Knot to someone who asks, I feel they take away a positive experience. I’d rather that any day, to the’ stare and giggle’ by the general public.

So here is the question for you dear reader. Are you straight up or blended? Have you asked yourself lately?

After I heard about that jerk cracking jokes on me, I started to ask myself that same question. I know negativity lives among us. Perhaps I’m too serious. I don’t know. I do know this however. I WILL NOT change my way of practicing.

I’m too happy for that! (Unlike him.) Thanks Karma!

Shamanism and Shape-shifting

Shamanism and Shape-shifting

Author: Gentle Deer Lion Tamer

Shamanism:

Shamanism is a set of tools and techniques used to interact with the spirit world and the world around us. It has no specific pantheon of gods and is attached to no particular culture. It is a way of looking at the world and at yourself. There are no hard-set rules, no hierarchy to try and work through. Shamanism is the oldest known form of spiritual practice. It is a time-tested practice, what works is kept, what doesn’t is left behind. When our ancient ancestors prayed that the spirit of the Deer would come to them allowing them a good hunt, they were using shamanic techniques although I am sure that was not the word they used to describe it.

Shamanism is a personal quest for knowledge and inner power, but it is a quest that has traditionally taken place within the confines of a tribe or family group. The same holds true for those who follow a shamanic path today, but our groups might be different. We could work to guide and aid our family or a group of friends or a pagan circle. These groups are just as valid and appropriate a place for a modern person walking a shamanic path as a tribe was to an ancient one. A shaman’s place is within a community, not apart from it.

Shamans have held an important place in many different cultures throughout the world since our beginnings. They have been mediators, ceremonialists, healers, diviners, many different kinds of artists and much more. They learn and work with power for both themselves and the good of those around them. They understand the connection and need for balance amongst all things, that all aspects of the world that we share with the rest of creation is alive, humans, animals, plants, rocks, and even the wind.

Traditionally people generally came to a shamanic path by being chosen and trained by an experienced shaman, or by inheriting the role from a parent. Often people choose or are led to follow a shamanic path after a near death experience, but that doesn’t mean that you have to go out and try to kill yourself if you want to learn shamanism. In today’s world many people come to the shamanic path because they feel drawn to it or curious about it. Anyone can incorporate shamanic practices into their lives. You only need to believe that you can.

However, interest in shamanism does not make you a Shaman. If you are just starting this path it is much more appropriate to say you are following a shamanic path or a student of shamanism. Shaman is one among many titles that can be used for a person who has followed and studied this path for many years. Another common title is Medicine Woman or Man.

Another common misconception is that shamanism is synonymous with Native American spirituality. Native Americans were one of many groups that used shamanic practices in their spirituality. Many other cultures did and still do, from South America all the way to Siberia in fact. Some of the better known shamanic paths include Native American shamanism, Celtic shamanism, and Siberian shamanism.

Shape-shifting:

Shape-shifting is a type of meditation on the relationship between humankind and nature, in particular animals. Shapeshifting is based on assuming certain characteristics of an animal. Traits and talents are also included in these characteristics. These characteristics, traits, and talents are assumed for a limited time and for a particular purpose. A shape-shifter is able to change shape either at will or under special circumstances.

Shape-shifters are not just human; they are also animals and plants. Shape-shifting ability depends on the level or degree of energy or quality of life the creature possesses. It is more difficult for plants because they are stationary, and least difficult for human beings because they are most able to understand the dynamics involved. Animals, including humans, are mobile, and it follows that animals are adept at moving and directing energy. It is, as humans, our innate nature, and our state of being.

For Chinese Taoists, there are two methods or purposes for shape-shifting. One, to strengthen or improve your vital essence by the study of metaphysics and nature. Two, to share your vital essence with others. This shift can be accomplished through meditation, channeling, dancing, and singing – as well as chanting, ritual, and making love. More or less, any situation where people merge together as One and build energy.

Toltec shamans shape-shift and gather energy by pulling together the power from the universe, for instance, from dead stars. Through a complex set of physical movements, breath and intention, the Toltec shaman gathers and collects energy to be used toward specific purposes.

The Celtic shaman also understands that things never truly die; they merely change form. Thus, the cycle of life becomes more understood. All things continuously change shape. A child grows to adulthood to old age to death and again. Everything is continuously reborn through shape-shifting and the elemental components are constantly recycling.

A glass of water is a good example of these changes. If given a glass of water, you cannot destroy it; it is impossible to destroy the water. If poured our, the water becomes part of whatever you pour it into or onto. If evaporated, it later becomes rain. If drank, it becomes part of the body then waste that is recycled into the Earth. In other words, like all other things, it cannot be destroyed. Nothing can be destroyed. All is ever-beginning, never-ending. All things merely shift shape. This very strongly suggests that shapeshifting is a natural state of existence.

Human reason and logic do not necessarily apply to shapeshifting. To shift into another person, animal, or elemental energy means being privy to the secrets of a state of being where you are able to feel the unexplainable, the mysterious. By setting aside known and accepted natural laws, like inertia, you can merge into the body of any animal, plant, rock, body of water – anything you choose. This merging allows you to experience the world of instinct. This world is frightening to most humans who have separated themselves from nature and from the “natural” state of being.

As you learn more about shifting, and abandon the structures and forces that hold you to the Earth, time and space become very fluid and soft. This creates a gateway to Oneness, a threshold of awareness where your perspective alters and changes permanently. Once you move through that threshold, you are transformed. It becomes a metamorphosis.

The fluidity of reality becomes “normal” and you realize you are not a fixed human being on this planet but a multidimensional being with the potential of experiencing an infinite number of lifetimes, worlds, and shapes. One important thing to remember in practicing shape-shifting is that nothing is what it seems to be, especially time, matter, and space.

On a very basic level, shifting allows for a richer and fuller perspective of life and experience. As a way to gather information and build magickal skill, shape-shifting connects you with your creative ability and your spiritual center, regardless of your religious, philosophical, or cultural preferences.

The key to learning how to shape-shift is merging, sometimes called the “thirteenth factor.” Merging, or the thirteenth factor is the point where there is no division between body, mind and spirit. Everything becomes Oneness, and all knowledge and wisdom are readily accessible in this place of being, depending on your intentions and desire. Merging is the mystic state where you become one with all things. This occurs naturally when you are in a beautiful nature area, and suddenly you feel yourself becoming part of the trees, the waterfall, and the rocks.

It also occurs when you fall in love. You merge and meld with your partner. Another example is the bonding that happens between parent and child, or between twins.

The Two Main Components of the merging process are breath and intention. First, your intention needs to be specific, simple, and directed. Focus on the intention before, during and after merging.

Second, pay close attention to how you are breathing. Relax. Use “in, 2, 3, 4 – out, 2, 3, 4.” Hold your breath briefly in between. Repeat this as many times as needed for you to relax. After practice, you will find that merging becomes automatic.

When you merge into an animal, you enter the energetic being of the animal, stepping into catness or wolfness, and so on. It is as if you enter the domain of essence, becoming the animal, almost like becoming a mirror of the animal. Each animal becomes an aspect of yourself, your eyes, your legs, your heart become one with the eagle, the horse, the lion, etc.

When you incarnate into the physical, you take form and become flesh, embodied and defined. Definition gives temporary form and shape as a human being. Shape-shifting allow you to briefly step out of that form. It also allows you to move out of “ordinary” reality into multidimensional awareness, realizing you can be here and there at the same time.

It is a strange feeling at first, until you accustom yourself to this new perspective. With practice, you can eventually learn to experimentally be in several places (worlds) at once, hence the concept of simultaneous lifetimes.

There are three levels of shape-shifting: mental, physical (usually accompanied by mental) , and astral.

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.