Can You Think Like A Witch?

Can You Think Like A Witch?

Author:   T.L.   

There has always been a strong connection between Witches and Fairies known to all students who study Fairy lore. Several Pagan traditions have come to choose the term Fairy (or Faerie or Faery or Feri) as a result of Fairy mythology and scholarly research regarding Fairies in the past. In the late 1990’s, the year before her death, my 90-year-old paternal aunt, Nina Sutter, told me that our ancestors who lived in Mecosta County, Michigan, were Fairies. She also told me that “those people all stuck together” and that they were “like the Indians.” Because of what she told me and other family memorabilia I have, I believe it is possible that Wicca is a survival religion associated with Fairies. At the time my aunt spoke to me, I do not think she knew what a Fairy might be—just that this was something she was told and something that she sensed was important. I knew nothing about Wicca at that time, and I did not know what a Fairy was either. Several years went by before I figured it out what she was talking about.

My paternal great-grandmother, Alta Isadore Gould (born in 1851) published a book of story-length Civil War poems in 1894. The Veteran’s Bride And Other Poems was very popular for its day, going through five editions (and six printings) in four years. Gould integrates Wiccan symbolism in various ways within her published stories that are best understood within the context of their underlying themes, that include the myths of the Wheel of the Year, the myth of the Dying God, the Missing Cauldron of Cerridwen, and Hestia of the Hearth. When I realized that my great-grandmother’s book was about Wicca, I finally was able to figure out what it meant to have ancestors who were Fairies.

Gould’s metaphors are enhanced by hidden Wiccan symbols within each of her nine engravings. My aunt showed me one of those symbols—an “athame” hidden as a spire at the top of an arch in one of the engravings—except that she called it a “knife.” I do not think she knew the purpose of the “knife, ” just as she did not know the significance of “Fairy.” The knife was just something she had been shown and something she sensed was important. My aunt showed me the knife, just like her mother showed her the knife, just like her mother showed her the knife. This transfer of knowledge from my great-grandmother, to my grandmother, to my aunt, to me, shows that the knife was consciously positioned as a spire in Gould’s engravings and its presence is not just a matter of interpretation.

It is the culmination of Gould’s writing, her engravings, and other memorabilia I have regarding her life that makes me believe all of what my aunt said was true. My aunt was an honest woman, a Methodist, who would have had no motive for aligning the family with Paganism. The fact that she embraced these sparse memories in her old age, and wanted to share what little she knew with me before she died, shows she harbored warm feelings regarding this facet of our family’s history, and speaks positively of Wicca.

Obviously, I do not know what it means to have ancestors who say they were Fairies. More importantly, I do not know what being Fairies meant to them. It is possible that Alta Gould’s own ancestors, just like founders of Pagan traditions today, chose the term Fairy to describe themselves and created their own Witch-religion as a sort of secret society that encompassed all aspects of their lives. Theoretically, if there were multiple pockets of people similar to Gould’s group scattered throughout America, Canada, and Europe, perhaps something like this is the Witch-religion that Gerald Gardner ultimately was exposed to.

One good thing about social media is that participants do not have to yield to some higher authority in order to have their stories told. Currently, experts in Wicca claim there is no hard evidence that Wicca existed before Gerald Gardner–but it is hard to visualize what the hard evidence they seek might be. Although I do not have a stone tablet of Wiccan runes spelling out its history, or an ancient, crumbling Wiccan charter retrieved from a locked vault, the limited evidence that I do have is very real. It involves interpretation of texts, symbols, photos, and memorabilia, and is the closest and best thing to hard evidence of a Witch-religion prior to Gardner that, I believe, exists to date. One might critically say that my interpretation of these texts, symbols, objects, and memorabilia are just one of many. But the truth is, not all interpretations are equal. Some interpretations are better than others—and my interpretations are good, solid, and apparent. Interpreting texts, objects, and family histories has long been a tried, true, and accepted way of learning about the past and of doing research.

Even the work Ronald Hutton engages in involves interpretation. There is not (and never will be) a long buried stone tablet affirming that Wiccan imagery comes from the Romantic poets. Even though he will never find “hard” evidence to support his thesis, his research nevertheless is interesting. I know that I am not Ronald Hutton—far from it. But, on the other hand, Ronald Hutton’s aunt did not tell him that his ancestors were Fairies, and his great-grandmother did not write a book with an interwoven Wiccan subtext.

The biggest problem with my research is that first someone has to actually read it. I have written a book (Remembering A Faery Tradition: A Case Of Wicca In Nineteenth-Century America) . I am not a professional academic, but I did the best that I could to write about my discoveries and place them within an interesting context. I am sure my book has many faults, but my main message is very tangible. Also, I have made a web site that discusses much of my research and includes a chapter from my book. It is not a professional web site, but it serves a function. I have items and photos and letters that someone else, beside myself, would have to look at. Finally, and most importantly, someone else besides myself would have to read my great-grandmother’s book, front to back, perhaps several times, with a critical eye. If you understand how poetry is written and how metaphor is used, and if you are Wiccan, and if you are able to think like a Witch (surviving within a Christian culture) , you should be able to understand her poetry.

Social media allows me to put all of this “out there” whether anyone ever looks at it or not in current time. Perhaps someday new information will come out that will cause some other researcher to want to look at my research, and then my research might either provide a lead or confirm another finding. Perhaps there are other people, like myself, whose ancestors described themselves as Fairies, who will recognize some of the things that I talk about in my research, and then go public with their information also. Even though it seems that there is not even a small audience interested in the history of Wicca in America—for myself it has been exhilarating, thought-provoking, and a whole lot of fun.

Yule – Winter Solstice

Yule Comments & Graphics

Yule – Winter Solstice

After Samhain and Beltane, Yule is the most important feast. Elaborate rites are performed to insure the rebirth of the Sun. It is the greatest crisis of the year, and before the commercial value of sentimentality was discovered, popular customs reflected a wide contrast of the dark and eerie against joyful music and glittering lights.

Samhain to Yule is a season of preparation. A fast is not exactly enjoined, but it is as good a time as any to lose a little weight, because you’ll surely gain it back during Yule. It is a time for serious introspection and spiritual discipline. Perform your devotions and meditations regularly. Just before Yule, thoroughly clean your home.

The celebration begins on Yule Eve with religious rites. Yule Day is for family observances of a cheerful, social nature, with a feast, perhaps in the evening, unless there is a ball or theater event. The next day is a peculiar time. It is the day left over in the old Pagan calendar of thirteen 28-day months. It belongs to no month and no year; truly a “time that is not time”. (On a leap year there are two of these intercalary days.) what is done on the third day, then, hasn’t really happened, or doesn’t count. It gives us a perfect opportunity to step outside our usual roles and experiment, even if we look foolish. No one is allowed to hold it against us. No commitments can be made of this day; they will not be binding.

The next day is the New Year from a solar point of view.

The season of Yule runs till the Eve of Oimelc, so for Pagans there is no post- Xmas letdown. You can have Yule parties every weekend till February. When your evergreen decorations dry up, you can renew them. But by Oimelc, every trace of the Yule greens must be out of the house. It is pleasant to burn them in your fireplace.

Images of the Divine Masculine

Images of the Divine Masculine

by K. C. Holt

In these times, the masculine seems in danger of being devalued. Examples of the masculine demonized as the patriarchal oppressor and destroyer of the environment and all that is good in society are all too easy to find. However, the feminist movement that gained momentum in the ’60s held out much hope not only to women, but to a great many men – men who not only agreed with what women were saying but realized that their own liberation from unrealistic and emotionally crippling stereotypes hung in the balance. In the following paragraphs, we will explore views of the masculine that are not new but have been lost to many in the mainstream of society and religious orthodoxy.

Looking at today’s spiritual landscape, it appears the image of the “Divine Masculine” is in a state of flux. The men’s movement has been late to start, galvanized into existence by some very patriarchal behavior within the women’s movement as well as by the need to reclaim what orthodox patriarchal religion has suppressed and persecuted. Patriarchal society has a numbing effect on the souls of men. Men now seek the door to their feeling, spiritual side with a renewed vigor unfettered by past convention, allowing them to love and work in ways that heal their lives.

Rites of passage for men have become little more than preparation for surrender to the hero image. Men find themselves sent forth to compete, to accumulate wealth, power and dominion over their environment. Dominion separates men from nature; they lack the immediate connection to the earth women gain through the cycles of menstruation and birth.

Men, instead, are linked to nature’s cycles through the activities of hunting and gathering or farming and agriculture. But these activities have largely been removed or distorted through the industrialization of society. Industrialization has helped lead to the incorrect and damaging association of nurture with the feminine and domination with the masculine. This pigeonholing of the male psyche by society and modern psychology has produced a shallow conception of the nature of masculinity. Furthermore, such an association ignores aspects of feminine psychology that do not necessarily fit the image of nurturer.

Aaron R. Kipnis, in his provocative book Knights Without Armor: A Practical Guide for Men in Quest of Masculine Soul, aptly states the problem: “Men in our culture today are undergoing a major restructuring of the basic paradigms governing masculine consciousness and behavior. It’s important to understand and uncover those aspects of the inner psychic life of persons that are essentially masculine in nature. We need to develop a working model that meets the needs of modern men on the basis of their own individual, personal experience. In many cases, this is very different from the constructs that have come out of heroic, monotheistic, patriarchal thinking or the revisions of feminist theory…. We need a more expansive psychology, which embraces the possibility of a moist, soulful, dark, authentic, mysterious, lunar, deep and earthy masculinity.”

Where might we look to find this concept of a mysterious, lunar, deep and earthy masculinity? Does it indeed exist, or does it need to be created? The answer is that it has existed for millennia. The evidence of its existence is carefully concealed by the orthodox monotheistic religions and the admittedly unbalanced patriarchal society we find ourselves in.

Wicca emphasizes polarity, worships the Earth God and has kept His memory alive. Most Wiccans see men and women as equal in spirit and intelligence but opposite in physical and emotional orientation. The practice and philosophy of Wicca is built around this polarity. I claim no authority to speak for any one tradition; Wiccans are as diverse as any religious group, ranging from what I like to affectionately call Fundamentalist Wiccans to Eclectic Wiccans. Some might prefer or better fit the title pagan or shaman. The point is that the gods associated with the deep and lunar side of masculinity are the gods of the earth and the sea.

Within the pagan and Wiccan philosophies, these gods find their emphasis, and as to their personal value to men, I speak from my experience as a son, father, grandfather and pagan. Men navigate their worlds through the powers of air (intellect) and fire (action). When they look to the depths of their souls, however, they find the earth and sea powers of love, attraction, affection, beauty, harmony, artistry and peace.

To turn inward to the subconscious, the feminine, in order to transform yourself does not mean to become feminine! The mistaken concept that one must become feminine has led many men astray from the God. A “real” man is one who lets the gods of the Earth teach him to understand his physical potential and limitations. He follows his heart with the warrior spirit to the depths of the sea, where he finds wisdom, sanctuary and the secrets of his strengths and weaknesses. The world problems we can attribute to the negative aspects of a male-dominated society cannot be solved by immersion only in the female aspects of divinity. They must include recovery of the forgotten and positive aspects of the God. The Great and Horned One, oldest of all the gods, sees women as equals and is a just and strong god rather than judgmental and vengeful.

The Horned God predates civilization. His image first appears in a Paleolithic cave in France, the meager beginnings of what we know as recorded history. He is the Wild Man, the Green Man, God of the Forest and Animals and Consort of Nature, the Goddess. The Horned God of Wicca, Cernunnos, is pictured holding a ram-headed serpent in his hands. He wears an open neck-ring or torque, in which we can see the symbol of the moon. He is the guardian of the cauldron, the lover and son of the Goddess who is Her partner in the sacred dance of creation.

With the shift in consciousness that led to patriarchal monotheistic thought, something was lost. The polytheistic pagan and matriarchal society’s concept of the one universal consciousness or deity that is expressed through a multiplicity of forms, both male and female, was forgotten or more likely totally ignored by the patriarchs. Cernunnos was devoted to Nature and the Goddess. He taught his sons to hunt, protect, nourish and cherish His mother, sisters, daughters and mate. The monotheistic patriarchy now vilified him as a devil.

The concept that sexuality leads men to confuse mystical ecstasy with eroticism led to the lie that the Goddess would seduce men to their folly. With the Horned One demonized and the Goddess expelled from the heaven of the patriarchs, Nature was open to plunder and rape. Is it any wonder that we see the anger of the Mother in the eyes of her female worshipers?

While Wicca has kept the memory of the Earth God alive, there are other places we may look to reclaim positive images of the Divine Masculine. In the pantheon of ancient Egypt, we find Nu, goddess of the night sky and stars, arching her naked body over Geb, god of the earth. He is depicted hard with desire, reaching upward for union with the stars. He strives towards Her, knowing that She will come to Him at Her need: a knowledge all men hold in their hearts.

Osiris was Geb’s heir. Sometimes he is depicted colored red for the earth, and more often green for vegetation. The Atef crown he wears sometimes is shown with a pair of horns sprouting from its solar disk.

Pan of the Greeks was linked to Aker of the Egyptians. A horned god who guarded the entrance to the Underworld, Assur was an Assyrian supreme god, who while associated with war was a fertility and moon god also. The moon has not always been the sole domain of feminine deities, nor the sun of male deities, for that matter. Osiris was referred to as Lord of the Moon in numerous instances. In Sumer, in the city of Ur, Nanna was worshipped as the Moon Father. In India, the Moon Father is referred to as Soma. The Babylonians knew him as Sinn.

Celtic mythology is also full of gods associated with the earth and the sea. Dagda brought back the cauldron of abundance and led the Tuatha De Danan underground to the faery mounds. He is associated with sexuality and fertility. Cromm Cruaich is known as the Lord of the Mound and associated with the harvest. Manannan Mac Lir was the Irish god of the sea, who separated the world of the faeries and humans.

The image of solar gods is lofty, dry and remote. The other side of masculinity, which is moist and deep with feeling, is to be found in the gods of the sea. Poseidon or Neptune was god of the sea. Poseidon conspired with Hera and Athena to overthrow the sky god Zeus. Most have seen Neptune as a patriarchal god, but this story shows us how the watery, earthy depths of our masculine feeling side can work to overthrow the Sky Father, high above the earth.

Whereas the sky gods often have hidden if not absent sexuality, the earth and sea gods are sexually well-endowed. Poseidon’s trident symbolizes his phallic nature. The trident is also associated with the wild dancing god Shiva of the Hindus. These are just some of the examples of where one may look to find a soulful, dark, lunar and earthy masculinity.

We are the sum total of all that has come before us: the Mesolithic hunters, gatherers and Neolithic farmers of matrilineal culture (7000-2000 B.C.); the Indo-European warriors emphasizing the male sky gods in the centuries of the Bronze and Iron Age (2000-800 B.C.); the turn of the millennium with the advent of Christian mythology and its concepts of dualistic division between body and soul, world and spirit and Original Sin; and finally the age of scientific rationalism. Rationalism allows for nothing supernatural and reduces the universe to a language of numerical abstraction – mathematics.

No one of these periods surpasses the other. They all possess a unique imprint on the human experience. Any one of them taken alone represents but a fraction of the evolutionary progress of the human soul. The earth gods, born in the distant past, still prove necessary to us; they are the force whereby the land springs forth in an ever-changing cycle. We must identify and nurture the positive aspects of maleness embodied in our God or gods and unite the God to the Goddess.

In a time when the orthodox concept of God has become sterile and sexless, the deities of the earth and sea await all men. They possess the ability to guide men to a fuller meaning of what it is to be sons, fathers and grandfathers. They offer a positive alternative of what it means to be male in a world that has lost sight of the good nature of Man. As men, we have the task to reclaim the divine masculine and unite with our sisters in perfect trust and perfect love.

Elemental Magick

Elemental Magick

Elementals are the forces behind each act of creation and destruction. They conduct the life force through nature. Each of the four elements (Earth, Air, Fire and Water) is manifest through the essences of the individual elements. They translate the blueprints of the nature devas into the actual flowers, trees or crystals. Elementals give the seeds the power to grow and the energy to flourish as mature trees. They continue to energize the cycle of growth, maturity and decay through the scattering of new seeds until the eventual bark decays, the tree dies and is replaced; in the case of a Yew tree this can take up to two thousand years.

Elementals don’t exist permanently as separate entities from their elements. Nor do they have distinct species or personal characteristics in the same way as for example a gnome, the archetypal earth nature spirit, does. However, they can appear as wavy, flickering, flame-like figures, as swirling shimmers of water rising from a waterfall, as darting flashes of light in the air or as a wispy mist rising over the land. People fleeing from forest fires have described how animated flames seem to curl like huge fingers to snatch at them.

When an elemental has finished its task, which could last from a few minutes to a thousand years or more, they return to their own element in  undifferentiated form. They can change size and appearance while they are animated, but remain as part of the same element. What is more they cannot after the first creation brought the elements into being, be created or destroyed.

The elemental beings are, therefore, the bridge of power between the material and spiritual plane.

Today’s Magick: A Simple, But Effective, Ritual for Easing Pain

Book & Candle Comments

 A Simple Magical Ritual To Ease Your Pain

This ritual may help ease your pain. Take a walk. As you walk, look for an ordinary stone that appeals to you. Place this stone on your altar. As you meditate about your day, hold this stone. Visualize all your pain entering the stone.

When the day comes that you feel your life is returning to normal, you may get rid of your stone. To do this, go out to a favorite spot, perhaps where you found your stone. Thank the stone, leave it. Keep walking and don’t look back.

Excerpt from:

The Sun Also Rises:
Dealing with Grief
James Kambos

~Magickal Graphics~

Magickal Hours of the Day

Magickal Hours of the Day

 

As analogy of how the hours of the day influence magick can be drawn to a day in the life of a flower.With the first rays of sunshine, the flower begins to open. The, it fully opens, and stays open until closing again at dusk. The flower quietly sleeps, yet it still continue to grow and develop all through the night, until the dawn comes once again.

Magickal timing by the hour of the day follows the flower pattern. Although some of us are morning people, while others are night owls, you will discover that there are certain times during the day and night that you do your most successful magick. Pay attention to you own natural rhythms, and honor them, choosing the times when you have the most energy for magick making. The following is correspondences for the daily timing of potions and spells.

Dawn

A time of renewal, rebirth, new ideas dawning, new beginnings, and consecration. Over the centuries, people have collected the dew on the grass and plants at dawn to use as a magick love potion.

Morning

This is a good time for setting patterns in play for preparing potions, and casting spells for attaining goals. The day’s light is growing strong and your magick grows accordingly. Mid-morning is a good time to harvest flowers.

Noon

The solar energy is most powerful at high noon, and there is a tremendous amount of energy for magick making. Noon is also a good time to gather flowers for magickal uses.

Afternoon

This is a time of harvesting magickal goals. The heat of the afternoon sun is a good time for harvesting herbs for potions.

Dusk

A powerful junction point between solar and lunar energies, dusk is the time when the portals to all worlds are thrown open and you can freely enter them. This is a very potent time for any magick making because the portals are open and communication with Divine energies is particularly strong.

Dark of Night

The lunar and stellar energies are strongest at night. Throughout history, witches have always cast their spells under the cloak of night. This is also a good time to map out magickal potions and spells.

Midnight

Traditionally called “the witching hour,” midnight is a good time to let go of old habits or negative relationships and banish negativity from your life. This is also the time for updating your life patterns and practicing dream magick.

The Hour Before Dawn

This is the time of the Otherworld of fairies and when many predators hunt. It is a good time to stay indoors.

 

About.com: 12 Days of Yule Devotionals (Day 6)

About.com
Day 6: A Sunset Prayer for Yule                              
Patti Wigington
FromPatti Wigington, your Guide to Paganism /Wicca                                                                           
As the sun descends into the horizon on the longest night of the year, take a moment to ponder what you will see when you wake the next day.
 

A Sunset Prayer for Yule                            

Set aside some time to meditate upon the meaning of this time of year, and what it signifies for you and your life.


The longest night has come once more,

the sun has set, and darkness fallen.

The trees are bare, the earth asleep,

and the skies are cold and black.

Yet tonight we rejoice, in this longest night,

embracing the darkness that enfolds us.

We welcome the night and all that it holds,

as the light of the stars shines down.          

                   

 

Additional Reading                            

Make those long winter nights a little more refreshing with some freshly blended incense. Put together a batch of Winter Nights Yule Incense, and burn it during rituals, or just to make your home smell comforting in the cold of winter.
Tomorrow: A Nordic Yule Blessing                            

                                        This email is written by:                                                                      Patti Wigington                                                          Paganism / Wicca Guide                                        

About.com: 12 Days of Yule Devotionals (Day 7)

About.com
Day 7: A Nordic Yule Blessing                              
Patti Wigington
From Patti Wigington, your Guide to Paganism /Wicca     
                                                                       
The Norsemen of old had a custom that if two people who were enemies met under a bough of mistletoe, they must lay down their arms. This time of year, set aside old conflicts. Take a moment to meditate upon the relationships you have, and try to find ways to get along with people who normally antagonize and anger you.
 

A Nordic Yule Blessing                            

Yule is a time to set aside animosity between yourself and people who would normally antagonize you. Set aside your differences, and think about finding peace in the spirit of the season.


Beneath the tree of light and life,

a blessing at this season of Jul!

To all that sit at my hearth,

today we are brothers,

we are family,

and I drink to your health!

Today is a day to offer hospitality

to all that cross my threshold

in the name of the season.

Additional Reading                            

For many Pagans and Wiccans, the holiday season becomes a time of conflict with their non-Pagan family. They may not understand what it is you celebrate, or there may be old wounds that surface each year when family gets together that have nothing to do with your beliefs. Regardless, read on for tips on how to Survive the Holidays With Your NonPagan Family.

Tomorrow: Snow Prayer                            

                                        This email is written by:                                                                      Patti Wigington                                                          Paganism / Wicca Guide                                        

About.com: 12 Days of Yule Devotionals (Day 8)

About.com

 

Day 8: Snow Prayer for Yule                              
Patti Wigington
From Patti Wigington, your Guide to Paganism /Wicca                                                                           
There’s a lot to be said for the beauty of snow. Welcome the white stuff with a prayer reminding us of why we love it.
 

Snow Prayer                            

Depending on where you live, you may be seeing snowfall long before Yule arrives. Take a moment to appreciate its beauty, both as it falls and once it covers the ground.


From the reaches of the north,

a place of cold blue beauty,

comes to us the first winter storm.

Wind whipping, flakes flying,

the snow has fallen upon the earth,

keeping us close, keeping us together,

wrapped up as everything sleeps

beneath a blanket of white.

Additional Reading                            

You may at some point in the Yule season find yourself stuck inside — after all, if too much of the white stuff comes down, it’s hard to get anywhere! Stock up on reading material, and turn being snowbound into a family treat with Ten Great Books for Yule.
Tomorrow: A Prayer to the Old Gods                            

                                        This email is written by:                                                                      Patti Wigington                                                          Paganism / Wicca Guide                                        

Sunday Is Also Good For Witches Who Seek Spells

Witchy Comments

Two Spells of Blessings You Will Find Here Today!

 

BOOK BLESSING SPELL

I will serve the Great Goddess,
And give reverence to the Great God,
I am a Pagan, A stone in the ancient circle,
Standing firmly, Balanced on the earth,
Yet open to the winds of heaven,
And enduring through time,
May the old gods witness my words.

So Mote It Be.

 

 

SPELL TO ENCHANT A BOOK

Light a blue and an indigo candle.
Invoke a Goddess of Wisdom, and ask for her help to enchant the book.
Inscribe the book letting the inscription express the desired wish.

 

~Magickal Graphics~