Wiccan Belief, Wiccan Tradition

So, the title of the post represents some of what users have used to bring them to my site over the past week.  I can’t really emphasize anything in particular – I would recommend the links to the right for more information about Wicca in general.  Yet, I do have something interesting within my own life to share, if anyone would be willing to cock a listening ear.

The conversation began as any conversation – and lasted for a long time about secret organizations, and what Wicca would have become if all of its secrets had not been leaked.  What if we had a way to exert control over the imposters?  An interesting concept, to say the least.

But then it led to me finally asking my high priest:  Who taught you?  Who taught them?  At first, he did begin to delve into our “physical” religious history.  He told me of the two different traditions from which he was born – of the charges he was given as a third degree, and where he has gone since then.  He told me of the three of the seventy three witches at the ’74 witchmeet who were part of his magical ancestry.  He told me of his ex-wife, who nearly went crazy while subjected to all of the knowledge and mysteries of the path in three months, instead of years and years.

But the discussion took a turn while we were talking, and ended at this:

Do not allow me to tell you of those who taught me, nor allow yourself to tell others of me.  We gain our spiritual knowledge, we move along our spiritual paths not from the wisdom of humans, but from the wisdom of the universe itself.  Our teachers are not our high priests and priestesses, but rather Jesus and Allah and Buddha, Adonis and Anubis and Hecate.  Diana, Aphrodite, Ra, Odin – let these be our teachers.

Wicca is a religion.  It is a hierarchal path to gain enlightenment.  Yet going through the steps – ascending the ‘spiritual ladder’ and gaining our marks of honor are merely recognitions that we have learned *something*.

But what lies between us and God(s)?  That’s our path.  And that is the single most important thing in any discussion of religions and philosophies.

Advertisements

Number Two of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time

Well guys, this will be the last long day of my ride, as I’ll be traveling from Canajoharie, NY to Scotia, NY.

Number 2: We All Have Fluffy Bunny Days

This one doesn’t even need a description, really. It’s the little things – we can’t all be perfect. At the end of a long day, you may just be chanting to turn a red light into a green one, or to turn someone into a frog. Or maybe you’re around other witches, those who lean towards the Fluffy Bunny path, and suddenly you’re spouting the wisdom of the Divinity of Creativity (which isn’t a bad concept!) and then comes your downfall: you, or someone else, suddenly has an astral pet.

Hopefully, it won’t go as far as you claiming that you’ve had sex with a god and had an astral baby that you care for while you sleep that will become a demi-god and rule the earth. That’s pushing it.

But it may be as simple as looking a little too closely at blobs on a picture and deciding you’ve found your guardian angel. (Don’t you see it? It’s that blob just above my shoulder!)

Just remember. Your soul is not like a toaster.

Blessed Be!

Number One of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Two of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Three of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Four of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Five of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Six of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Seven of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Eight of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Nine of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

To Return to Gaming…

Within almost any MMORPG(mass multiplayer online role playing game) there exists groups of real, live people, with real live problems and real life moods and motivations.  Sometimes, depending on the game, you’re able to organize yourselves into guilds or groups or clubs.

Now, if you’re going to run a group or a club or any sort of people-based thing,  you’ll find the same basic problems anywhere you go.  As it is just before the launch of my own group/guild/order/program/people-place, I think it may be wise to touch on some of these issues.  For pagans, it is easy to draw this connection to covens – for Christians, their churches.

We all seek to answer the same basic questions.

  • How do I recruit people to my group?
  • How do I get people active in my group?
  • How do I fulfill the purposes of my group?
  • How do I deal with expanding hierarchy within a group?

How do I recruit people to my group?

It is best to determine what sort of people you want for your group.  This question only deals with quantity, not quality.  I’ve found through trial and error – and I may be wrong -that by getting a base pool of “maybes” who are allowed to infiltrate, you avoid elitist thinking which will leave your group with a population of one.

So, beyond the intelligence requirement, which every group should have but not every group can, let us determine a set of rules which will enable candidates to know where they stand.  Will your group be single sexed or kept to a specific age group(like over 18)?  Must your group all own something similar(Like a videogame)?  Must your group be of all the same faith(The “generic” Wicca vs Gardnerian Wicca vs Faery Wicca) ?

How do I fulfill the purposes of my group?

Action plan!  I know I’m going out of order, but the two questions I have left are the most often dealt with.  You really need to lay out exactly what you want out of a group in order for it to happen.  Beyond that, you have to come up with practical means of meeting those goals.  If you want to build a library of fanfiction, that’s great – but you can’t expect your ten members to write a library’s worth of fanfiction.  I’d suggest creating some form of mission statement document.  The Order of the Gecko’s is rather long and deals not only with what we want to do with the group, but also member expectations, roles, administrative expectations and roles….you get the point.

How do I get people active in my group?

If your group has a “home” in which smooth conversation cannot be obtained (like a forum…or a blog) – activity tends to waver.  This is reasonable and expected.  The best you can do in that situation is to offer a mend to the problem – allow anonymous posting or super-simple registration.  Allow a place for people to introduce themselves so that they feel comfortable just hopping right in.  The worst enemy there is spam.  But, we all bow low to the spam god’s ingenuity…and its not something we can fix at this moment.

If your group has a “home” in which smooth conversation can be obtained – such as face-to-face contact, or a chat room – then ways to promote participation do become slightly easier.  Group activities like meet-n-greet are great – for chat rooms, benefits(like ice cream) are harder to come by, but a topic-choice for a night may serve as a good incentive for participation.  Guided conversations can always spawn some interesting threads that can be followed up on later.  Arming yourself as a group leader with pen and paper (or notepad) and writing down what could be followed up later when conversation dies is a great way to keep activity going a very long time.

How do I deal with expanding hierarchy in my group?

Let’s face it.  When your group gets big enough, separation occurs.  The key is to make sure that you, as the leader, do not allow too much room for “members” to have more power or position than others.  Exerting favor is easily noticed and easily resented.  Some ways to allow for separation and an expanding structure are harder to use than others, but the easiest strategy I’ve found to employ is that of racism and discrimination, “Separate, but equal.”

This is to mean that the people writing the newsletter are different, but no more important than those people who participate a lot or who run some other aspect of your group.  In the end, the basic group structure may end up looking like this:

  • King/Queen/God/dess (1-5 people on top)
  • Advisors (The people that are closest to the King/Queen person(s))
  • Separate, but Equal rays (Managers, greeters, organizers, cooks, writers, etc)
  • Standard members (No exceptional power)
  • Neophytes/Initiates/Newbies (Whether or not this is used as an initial group is up to you)

The path to the SbE (Separate/Equal) should not be hard.  Members should be easily initiated to play a larger role.  This allows them some personal investment into the organization.  With those SbE’s though, you will have to give them some power to influence you.  Whether this is done in a democratic way with a vote, or an unofficial way with intentional conversation with those people by you and your advisors to foster intra-upper-division peace, is up to you.

The Conclusion

In the end, people are greedy.  We want power and responsibility and a say in what is going on.  Denying that or not fulfilling the needs of your members will cause rifts and strife.  But careful consideration and communication do wonders – in a coven, a guild, an order, or any sort of gathering and smattering of people.

Intentional Removal of Life

I’ve hesitated to write over the past few days, mulling something over in my mind which is not necessarily the cleanest or happiest of subjects for any religion, much less my own, with our ever-present, “An’ it harm none, do what ye will.”  Yet, for the first time in my life, I have been present for and partially responsible for the death of an organism with a closed circulatory system.

I am a biology major in college, and biologists often find it necessary to work with organisms which are not breathing.  Some studies – studies of nerves, the brain – require freshly dead organisms.  And so it was with our class on Thursday, as we were told we were going to profuse a pin fish, to preserve it and study its parts.

My stomach didn’t flip then.  I hadn’t really given too much thought to the process.  The fish was maybe the length of my wrist to my elbow, anxious in the bucket of water it had been placed in.  The standard procedure for profusion of fish, then, is to apply a powder anesthetic to the water, and wait until the fish is only breathing, and is not responsive to outer stimuli.

The fish is then removed from the water, flipped onto its back, and sliced open – the equivalent of cutting open our chest – breaking ribs as necessary.  The heart is found – observed – and then a cut is made into the conus of the heart A “ringer” solution – of the basic saline content of the fish at hand – is injected directly in, effectively bleeding the fish out.  With the heart still pumping – hopefully – a formalin / formaldehyde solution is pumped into the heart.  The heart does most of the work, getting the formaldehyde into all of veins and capillary beds, into the muscles, to preserve the fish.

I’ve always been a bit of an empathic person, and the class of eight students and three or four adult faculty seemed oblivious to my plight.   As the fish bled, so I felt the blood draining from my body.  And as the formaldehyde was just beginning to be pushed into the heart, I left the room – I could no longer see or hear very well, overwhelmed with a deep pain that began in my shoulder blades and worked its way through my entire body, complete with intensive sweating and hot flashes.

When the fish died, I began to feel better, and reentered the room without a word to anyone other than a faculty member – who had noticed, and offered some water and a place to sit in the adjoining lab.  And so, without any accident or moment of repose, I had been witness to an act of murder – a willing, deliberate, planned taking of life.

And the other students stood around our small sister of the earth with great interest.  The professor, explaining what he was doing, as he removed the top portion of the head to get to the brain.   I too, joined in the observance – because I genuinely am interested in the anatomy of a fish – and survived the class with my normal amount of enthusiasm for the practice of biology.  The fish had two ovaries near bursting with eggs – which apparently we will have to count later.

I know that the school of fish in the aquarium from which the fish originated is needing to be thinned out, and they are going to continue to thin the population – the fish almost had it out for her, from the beginning.  I also know that observing the profusion is a good experience to rely on in my future professional career.  Yet, a part of me wonders – how many organisms have died for “the study of life”?  And what is my role – as a witch – in the world of biology?

In one sense – we are witches in the sense that we must ever be observers of our fellow humans.  In some fashions, like parents, we are made to watch and do nothing – that the greatest lessons may come from this for those in question.  It is not my place to attempt to change the entire foundation of science when often the dissection of animals is necessary.  Dissecting twenty dead fish may aid you in saving the lives of hundreds as a marine biologist.  The same goes for those interested in veterinary medicine, or even human plights of some sort.

Humans were perhaps the most blessed – or the most cursed – by the gods.  We cannot run the fastest, we cannot swim the swiftest – we are not heavily armored or exceptionally good at digesting things that can’t fight back.  The only thing we were given is our mind – and with it, morality and responsibility.

Yet, that fish – my first observance of intentional death – will remain in my memory forever.  The pain I felt as she passed, can perhaps sort of compensate for her death.  True, she was going to die whether or not I was present, but I felt that at least, in being present, I took some of the pain.  “Be at peace,” I remember thinking to her, before the powder was going into the water to numb her senses, “You will be home soon.”

After all, I’ve always been taught that we(witches, shamans, etc) were here first, and we are the observers, and the caretakers, and when the world is ending, we will be those final lights – we will lead the others home.  I just got an early start :-/ .

Sacrifice, Blood, and Everything In Between

Using WordPress’s amazing stats features, I’ve been noticing that a lot of people have been coming to my site with search terms like “blood” and “sacrifice” along with some derivative of paganism.  I’ve decided to address the issue, perhaps to generate a little traffic, but also to explore the topic.  I realize that I spoke of the topic before.
If you’re not Wiccan, and perhaps are thinking about heading along the path, and you see this post and get kind of scared, you can put that fear to rest.  In one of our three pieces of classic literature, the Charge of the Goddess, our good lady tells us,

Nor do I demand sacrifice, for behold: I am the Mother of All Living, and My Love is poured out upon the Earth.

Yes, that’s right.  She is the Mother.  She doesn’t need anything from us except our existence.  She asks for nothing, and gives all in return.

Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn’t work like that.

With any decision, any action, there is always a sacrifice.  The way I was taught with tarot was a 10 card spread.  And the four cards outside of the six card cross were: Overview of the situation, Action required, Sacrifice required, New Outcome.

As a woman, my monthly blood flow is a sacrifice representative of our lady – if we just bleed for seven days, experience bloating and cramping…for maybe 10 or 12 measely children in the future – imagine what our Lady must go through!

Continuing on, with any spell or ritual where you set out specifically to accomplish something, there is a sacrifice.  No, it is not, most of the time, as romantic as a blood sacrifice – sometimes its time, or energy, or creating something, or destroying something.

But, sacrificing your own blood is a serious endeavor, and although not necessary by any means, is often a heavily symbolic gesture loaded with perhaps, enough power, to achieve your goal.  I’m assuming that, when blood is used, it is most often used as a way of binding yourself to something.  To another, to a concept, to an oath or promise, to an organization.  The theory behind blood oaths is that, we don’t break them.  Its sympathetic magic, representative of the idea that if we break this oath, this binding, we will die, or bleed, or something bad will happen.  Our life force is inherently tied into this act, this decision, this magic.

Now the question is  – should I, as a member of the ‘softer gender’, a woman, ever feel the need to take a blood oath?  After all, I can Draw Down The Moon.  Why should I, as an incarnate of our good lady, representative of the Goddess and life-giver in ritual, one who can speak with the power of the lady on a full moon or in my cycles – use my own blood as a binding?  I provide a blood sacrifice once a month.  A sacrifice to the existence of man, be what it may.  I, and my mother before I, and her mother before her, all providing for the sanctity of life.

I am not being sexist or even feminist by any means.  I am merely recognizing the roles that we must play in the cycles of life.  There are those who fall out of these roles – and that is fine, has happened for centuries, no problems – those who serve as go-betweens between the sexes – but in the end, in our religion, the woman is the embodiment of life, and man, her consort, not lesser or greater, but equal, and different.

Of course, other sacrifices can be just as symbolic.  In the end, it is not necessarily the sacrifice you make that is the catalyst – it is the preparation.  It is the action that you take after the sacrifice – your endeavors to accomplish your goal, complete your spell, follow through with your rituals – that will determine how successful you are.   The sacrifices, it seems, are for us to remind ourselves that something is important to us.  Always a good thing.
So, I’ve touched on blood oaths and sacrifice, and hope that will satisfy my Google browsers.   For the rest of you, I hope you keep coming back – I’ll probably be hitting some interesting topics with animals and exercise, as those seem to be the two things I’m focusing on at present.

Blessed Be!

Evolution; Intelligent Design

You know, as a pagan in a predominantly Christian world, I can honestly say that often, I find myself comparing and contrasting spiritualities, religions, and beliefs, with my own.  I always tend to wonder – how are we different?  And most importantly – if I believe that (some of them) they are so closed minded, what have I accepted as truth that is closing my mind to other revelations?

My place of higher education is having a speaker today on intelligent design.  Now, I don’t know much about it, but I do know that, for whatever reason, evolution has been handed down as a theory, and not as a fact of life.  We learned briefly about intelligent design in high school.  Personally, I think its a mix of the two.  After all, our creation story tells us that

The goddess existed, and she cut herself in two, and she made love with herself, and created the world.

(To sum it up…I know there’s lots of details in there, but I’m rather short on time)

It’s a beautiful story, a little more romantic than either of the others.  But, I’m not really sure what I think – and I don’t see how or why the beginning of the world *really* comes into play in my every day life.  Now, I know there are plenty of reasons, and I can contradict myself…but to me, its an arcane argument that can’t really be won, and I would end up choosing arbitrarily unless I a) spend lots of time in meditation or b) find an in-between animal the evolutionists claim to have existed.

Keep in mind that I am a biology major.  You know what that means?  Yup.  That means that everything I learn in my biology classes is related to evolution!  So, as a means of ease, I accept evolution for what it is – a theory that is widely used in the science world, a theory which many other theories are based on, and a theory which I must base at least some of mine on.

I would be all for the theory of intelligent design, which I am merely guessing can be summed up as, “There was an intelligent creator who made the universe.”  Its great right there!  Stop, ye Christians!

Because I know, that even though I cannot attend the lecture tonight (I have a test), the speaker will end up along one of these tracks…

  • And then Jesus died, and so we all must be Christian
  • Surely it was a great God who created this world
  • My entire theory is about disproving evolutionism

So, although I take both with a grain of salt; evolution wins in this case.  And only, only, because it is the lesser of two evils.  Let’s just say I don’t like having Christian beliefs shoved down my throat (which is how the concept was introduced to me, in the first place).

Have a gorgeous day!

The Gifts of Hawks

When I spoke to the gods on Samhain night, I was asked to research my totem animals. Among these totem animals, I have already established that the animals that I need to research throughout the year are the Hawk, the Cougar, the Bear, and the Turkey. I should back up momentarily: my patron God and Goddess make an interesting pair: Hanuman, the monkey god of the Hindus, and Athena, the warrior goddess of the Greeks. Needless to say, it is the equivalent of an older sister bickering with her younger, trickster brother.

The next morning, as I was walking to class, I nearly stepped on the remains of a small, unidentified bird which had been torn to bits. Lovely animals, hawks. The day before Samhain, I had taken a walk into the woods and found a Turkey feather, which I mistook for a hawk feather. Personally, I think it was Hanuman’s way of apologizing for not making my totem clearer to me. Turkeys are important, yes, in the grand scheme of things, but it seems someone wanted me to recognize that hawks are there too, and play an important part in my life. It was like a twisted apology.

I don’t normally laugh at death, but I’m pretty sure, with the state of the remnants of the bird I found, that it died quick and relatively mercifully, and I couldn’t help but to smile, knowing that my brother, Hawk, was still flying above, watching me – even if I couldn’t always see him. I also don’t ask for signs of outright proving of my faith often – but I believe I did, in the case of the hawk. I imagine that the gods get tired of proving they exist – so instead, I ask for smaller signs, occasionally, that I am going in the right direction. Unfortunately, the beauty and bane of magick and our spirituality lies in the manifestation of those wishes in a not-always-pleasant manner.

I’ll be writing a multitude of posts in advance of the weekends, and hopefully posting them every other day until December starts, when I can resume my normal posting amount. At least then, I’ll be regular.

What omens have you received from the gods during this sacred time? Were they as obvious as mine? Or more hidden? What will come of this year for you? Mine is the year of discovery – I plan to make great advances in my life and amount of knowledge. After all, I’m halfway through college – and I’m loving every minute of it!

Blessed be.