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[Witch Way] Volume #5 Issue #10 -- Spring Has Sprung!
March 13, 2013
|Hi, Happy Ostara!
Ostara is in exactly one week. March 20th is the date the calendar (in the northern hemisphere anyway) says that Spring begins. Of course if you’re in the southern hemisphere, the calendar says that Fall begins. I live in the northern hemisphere, so that’s what I know best, and my high school creative writing teacher always said to write about what you know.
This is what I know. I know that on February 2nd (Imbolc) I heard a lone songbird, singing his desire for a mate for the first time this year. I know that later that same week, I saw my first Robin of Spring. I know that last weekend, we here in Denver had our first Spring snow storm. What makes it a Spring snow storm?
There can be a lot of factors. Later in the season, it will be snowing with thunder and lightning, but this one had the classic signs. The storm was a blizzard with high winds big flakes and several inches of snow. It was a heavy wet snow, not the powder that skiers love. Most important, the sun was out the next day, and melted almost all of the snow. We had another Spring snow storm last night. It’s supposed to get into the 50’s today.
I bring this up, because while the calendar says it’s still Winter, the Earth says that Spring arrived last month. The calendar was made up by a man, a Catholic Pope to be specific, Pope Gregory XIII to be exact. This is the same Pope that moved the birth of Christ from the Spring, to Midwinter, and put the celebration of Christ’s death at a time when everyone else is celebrating fertility.
As the Catholic Cardinals of voting age (anyone under 80) gather in the Sistine Chapel, to vote for a new Pope, it’s important to remember the power such a man wields. Having stood in St Peter’s Basilica, and marveled at the art of the Chapela Sistina, I can tell you that the new Pope will hold more power than most people can imagine. It’s this power that allows him to remake the calendar to suit his own agenda.
When the Pope speaks, people listen. He will be the sovereign spiritual leader of just over one seventh the population of the entire world. That is more people following him, than the leader of any political nation, including China. That is raw power. Even that amount of power pales in comparison to the power of Nature. The Pope, try as he might, can’t make it rain, or cause the plants to renew their life. Only Nature can do that. The Pope can say that the first day of Spring is next Wednesday, but we who observe the world around us know that it started February 2nd. We also know that next Wednesday is actually the middle of Spring.
As a Witch, I look at the world around me. I notice the slight changes as they happen. I celebrate the seasons as they are, not as the calendar says they are. I walk a Path that few even realize is there. The world is full of followers. They follow the Pope, or some other religious leader, they follow where their government tells them to go, and they follow the calendar.
Being a Witch means more than just attending rituals, it means taking charge of your life, and deciding for yourself, where you will go, and what you will be. It means observing the details of the world around you, and taking your queues from Nature. Being a Witch means taking responsibility for your actions or inactions, because ultimately you are the only authority worth following.
As the world around me begins to warm and become green again, as life returns to the world outside my door, I thank the Gods for giving me the chance to watch the miracle once more. I can explain what’s happening in scientific terms of the earth orbiting the sun. I can explain how a seed lays dormant, waiting for conditions to be right for it to germinate.
What I can’t explain, is how this solid mass of lifeless organic material suddenly transforms itself into a living, growing plant. I’m sure that a trained botanist could explain it. A geneticist could explain how chains of proteins in the seed are allowed to combine, and thus bring new life, but that doesn’t make it any less miraculous or even less magickal.
As a modern person, I can explain many things my ancestors didn’t understand, but as a Witch, I see the magick all around me, and I really don’t care why it happens, only that it does, and I get to watch it every day. This is the miracle of life, and it is about to explode everywhere around us.
Take a few minutes every day, and look out your door at the world around you. No matter where you are in the northern hemisphere, you will start to see magickal changes. Notice them, and marvel at them. Most people will take these changes for granted, if they even notice at all.
A Witch notices, and marvels, and feels the magick all around.
This month we have a guest columnist, Sean who is a member of the local Golden Dawn. For those who don’t know, the Golden Dawn is a spiritual group that works with Ceremonial Magick. Their most famous member was Aleister Crowley. This month Sean presents the Equinox from the point of view of a Ceremonial Magickian.
Plants, Petals, & Potions
by Julie Andaverde
March brings with it a glimmer of hope that spring is on the way. For some of us, the warm days and cool nights of spring have already arrived! The bright-green seedlings in my garden have already begun to show their first leaves and with them, the reminder that we are incredibly lucky to watch the sun rise every morning. This time of year is a time for prosperity, luck, and the abundance that awaits us.
So my dear witches, let’s talk magic, luck, and the prosperity that is available to you through the power of a very familiar herb!
Latin Name: Trifolium Pratense (red clover), Trifolium Repens (white clover)
Family: Fabaceae (pea family)
Genus: Trifolium L.
Common Names: Wild Clover, Red Clover, Honeystalks, Shamrock, Three-Leaved Grass, Trefoil
Parts Used: Aerial parts, leaves, flowers
Gods and Goddesses: Artemis, Rowan
Magical Uses: Money, protection, peace, fertility as a symbol of spring, luck;
Element: Air (though some traditions associate this herb with Earth);
History and Folklore:
There are several different types of clovers, but the most commonly known ones are the red and white varieties. Typically, they have three leaves, but every once in a while there is a strain that produces four or even five leaves instead. Usually, when people use the word “shamrock,” they’re thinking of a three-leafed variety of white clover. The shamrock, or four-leaf clover, is a special symbol in Ireland because of its emerald green color that may have earned for Ireland the label “Emerald Isle.” The verdant color represents spring and the essence of life. Superstitions abound about the four-leaf clover because this kind of clover is considered rare or hard to find. A common clover has three leaves only; and its shape resembles a solar cross that ancient men used as a compass. According to Irish belief, the origin of this object of superstition can be attributed to the Druid priests of old England. The Druids performed healing and worshipping rites in oak trees in the forests where they encountered a four-leaf clover. They initiated the superstition that bearers of this type of clover will be able to open their third eye by reciting incantations, and curing people of their illnesses.
Prior to this discovery, the ordinary clover (with three leaves) had already been declared by St. Patrick as a wonder plant. Born in the 4th century, St. Patrick was responsible for the establishment of Christianity in Ireland. The saint is also believed to be responsible for preventing snakes from inhabiting the Irish territory. He talked to the Druids and integrated their pagan beliefs with Christian teachings. St. Patrick also introduced to the Druids the shamrock as a representation of the Holy Trinity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—united as one flesh because the clover has three leaves linked as one. This trinity is abundant in many paths and faiths, however, and is still used today in many traditions.
The shamrock is still a popular talisman today and a charm for good luck. It is believed that anyone who possesses it will be blessed with luck in anything, even in gambling, and will be saved from the evil effects of witchcraft and sorcery. There are certain conditions, though, for its power to remain effective: the owner of the shamrock must keep it handy and away from the public eye and never give it to someone else. Graves often have carvings of the clover image to serve as protection. Clover has also been known to chase snakes away from gardens – they despise clover!
Fun fact: the word shamrock comes from the Irish Gaelic seamrog, which means “small clover.” In Ireland, the three-leafed shamrock has become a national symbol, and represents the Holy Trinity of Catholicism. Clover is one of the oldest cultivated plants. It has been used both medicinally and magically since ancient times. Although modern folklore has this three-leaved plant being associated with the Christian Holy Trinity, the association of plants with three leaves goes much further back into Pagan times. The ancient Greeks and Romans associated it with their triple Goddesses and the Celts considered it a sacred symbol of the Sun. It is the national flower of Ireland, but the association with St. Patrick is actually more modern. In folk magic Red Clover is used in a ritual bath to attract money and prosperity to the bather and is also used as a floor wash to chase out evil and unwanted ghosts. White Clover is used for breaking curses and is worn as a sachet or put in the four corners of a house or someone’s property to achieve this. The four-leaf clover is a very famous good luck charm believed to protect from evil spirits, witches, disease, and the evil eye. Now if you’re the witch using the herb, it’s a different story! This familiar childhood rhyme for a four-leaf clover actually originates from the Middle Ages:
One leaf for fame, one leaf for wealth,
All of these together are supposed to give one the happiest and most fulfilling life possible. Four-leaf clovers are also traditionally used to see fairies and other spirits, to heal illnesses, and to avoid being drafted into the military. Three leaved-clovers are worn as a protective talisman and two-leaved clovers are used by young women to get a glimpse of a future lover. With its three leaves, Clover is a very shamanic plant allowing one to see into and interact with the Otherworld. It is a good talisman of protection and power for traveling out of body and walking between worlds. Never underestimate the magical power of this simple and harmless weed. It also makes a good offering to Mercurial deities and can be burned as herbal incense, added to alcoholic brews, or left with a food offering. In some Scandinavian countries, it is also used to ward off evil spirits and to help a seer develop their psychic abilities. Hang a bundle over your door to keep negative entities away, or plant it in your front yard, around the edge of your property.
Carry some dried red clover in your wallet to bring financial gain your way, or keep it in your pocket when you’re at a gaming table. Because of its cleansing properties, you can dry some white clover and burn it like you would sage or sweet grass, as part of a smudging or purification ritual. In modern tarot magic, clover is used when studying the cards of the minor arcana. If you are seeking a promise of fidelity you can offer a white clover bloom to your partner. It is best to gather clover for a promise when the Moon is full. Finding a two-leaf clover means a lover will come to you again. The three-leaf is worn as a protective amulet. The four-leaf clover brings peace of mind, psychic powers, money, and treasure. Finding a four-leaf clover brings exceptional good luck, riches, protection against sorcery, good health, a faithful lover, and the supernatural ability to see fairy-folk. The five-leaf clover brings money.
Medicinal uses:Folk medicine has traditionally used white clover blossoms for gout, rheumatism, and other arthritic concerns. In European folk medicine, clover has been used for centuries as a diuretic. Clover tea is often brewed up for patients who have issues with digestive organs – constipation, liver problems, and poor appetite have all been treated with clover. In some countries, the flowers are mashed up to produce a syrupy paste, which is then applied to skin disorders such as open sores or athlete’s foot. Typically, the flowers of the white clover plant have been used as a whole-system cleanser. White clover works to aid in digestive health by helping to decrease irritation and muscular activity of the gastrointestinal tract. It has also been purported to be used for healthy hair, skin, and nails when steeped as a clover blossom tea. In Ireland, the blossoms were used to treat coughs, colds, and other minor illness and ailments. White clover has been used as medicine and food by the Cherokee, Iroquois, Mohegan, Delaware Algonquians and other Native American tribes for centuries in medicinal and food preparations.
It is also used to decrease the activity of the central nervous system which is valuable in treating anxiety and nervous system disorders. Clover is also edible. Try adding some leaves, stems or flowers the next time you make a green salad! Some strains of clover have a lemony taste to their leaves. Red clover in particular is good for you – it’s known to be full of calcium, potassium, and other vital nutrients.
Effects:This herb has been known to decrease the activity of the central nervous system. In extremely large dosages, clover can produce lethargy, and increase psychic abilities, and heaviness of the extremities. When taken orally, as in a tea or infusion, the effects are mild and you will get a sense of peace and well-being.
Contraindications: Because clover has demonstrated mild neuropsychological effects, extremely large dosages of the herb should be avoided.
This time of year when the weather is warm and the snow has thawed, go wildcrafting for some clover and enhance your daily lives with luck, prosperity, and chase away those snakes that have been pestering you. Oh, and feel free to kiss a leprechaun while you’re at it. :)
Love, light, and blessings!
Beyerl, Paul. A Compendium of Herbal Magick. Custer, Washington; Phoenix Publishing. 1998
Cunningham, Scott. Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. St. Paul, Minesotta; Llewellyn Publications. 2000
Dunwich, Gerina. The Wicca Garden. New York, New York; Kensington Publishing Corporation. 1996
Grieve, Mrs. M. A Modern Herbal. New York; Dover Publications, Incorporated 1971
Hopman, Ellen Evert. A Druid's Herbal. Rochester, Vermont; Destiny Books. 1995
DISCLAIMER: It should be understood that Julie Andaverde is not a medical doctor, nor is Witch Way a medical journal. Some of the herbs and ingredients discussed in this column can be dangerous or even deadly if misused. Proportions and ratios discussed are based on personal observation and experience. Use of any herbs or ingredients is at your own discretion and risk. None of the information contained herein should be construed as medical advice. Always consult a trained medical professional.
The Witching Hour
by Marcus Leader
The beginning of a Sorcerer’s lineage
As promised in an earlier article, I am going to start releasing the closely guarded secrets of my Toltec Shamanic Lineage within this monthly newsletter. This will be a two part article because of the detail and depth of this previously untold story. Part two will be released in next month’s newsletter.
What you are about to read is the true, untold story of one of the biggest mysteries in the archeological world, the fall of the great Toltec city of Teotihuacán. This story has been closely guarded for many centuries, perpetuated by a secret lineage of shaman taught by word of mouth alone. I have the great privilege of telling this story, because I am part of this secret shamanic linage and I have been given the task of revealing these ancient secrets to humanity. What caused this great city to burn and what triggered the mass exodus of over a 200,000 people almost overnight? The answer to these questions and many more is the focal point of this series of articles. What you are about to read will amaze you and sometimes sound like fiction, but I can assure you it is not. These are the stories of my Toltec shamanic lineage as shared with me by my friend and mentor, Dr. Carlos Castaneda during an eight-year apprenticeship. This knowledge has been preserved through the centuries in a very special way from teacher to student in small groups of 2 to 8 people in a generation since the fall of Teotihuacán.
In order to preserve the conceptual integrity of this ancient knowledge base, Toltec shamans developed a method of teaching their students by placing them into an altered state of awareness created through special shamanic techniques and meditations. This altered state of awareness imprints information directly to the subconscious mind, thereby eliminating the possibility of emotional interpretation and subjective analysis, which often happens when a story is re-told too many times. It is like a “hard copy” of a verbal expression that never changes throughout the lineage. This subconscious “hard copy” also transcends the translation errors often encountered between various languages and dialects. What this means is that the information I am relaying to my readers contains the pure core knowledge of the lineage as it was told by the very first shaman/sorcerer/priest of ancient times.
It is not my intention to present a historical dissertation on the Toltecs or Teotihuacán, for there is a lot of “known” historical information available on the internet and in print for the reader to explore this topic further. I am only interested in bringing you the “Unknown” information, but to bring this information into context and give it enough cohesion to bond all the missing pieces together, I will have to give you a few basic facts.
The Origin Story:The first misconception that I would like to clear up is that the Toltec people were not a race, they were a society of multicultural artesian governed by a body of shamanic priests. The name Toltec was given to these people by the Aztecs when they discovered Teotihuacán. In the Aztec language Toltec means artist. Scientist do not know what the Toltecs really called themselves due to the lack of a written language. I should note that the stories told in my shamanic lineage do, in fact, reveal what the Toltecs called themselves as well as why they did not develop a written language, but I cannot reveal that information now.
The lineage states that the Toltec people originated over ten thousand years ago, but science can only track them from the ancient Olmec dating back to around 1800 B.C.E. The stories within my lineage say that sometime between 250 B.C.E. and 200 B.C.E. a select group of Olmec shaman were given a body of shamanic knowledge by “the Gods”. These shamans eventually broke away from the rest of the Olmec, taking with them an impressive entourage of followers to build a city that they envisioned in their dreams. This was the beginnings of Teotihuacán.
The reasons for the liberation of this select group of shamans are uncertain or at least the information contained in the core knowledge is a bit sketchy on this topic. It is likely that the decision to leave was a result of several factors including tribal jealously and fear from the new abilities and knowledge bestowed upon the select shaman who received the “knowledge of the Gods”. Tribal suspicions compounded by a series of shamanic visions and dreams most likely triggered this new journey to a path of freedom and greatness.
Ruling over this group was the oldest and most powerful of all the shaman. While his name is not recorded in the Toltec core knowledge, his powers of perception and energy manipulation were. He spoke to the “Gods” in dreamtime visions where they showed him a great city that his descendants would build and they showed him the sacred power spot where it was to be built. He was given geologic signposts and a vision of a sacred cave connected by a tunnel where he was to settle his people and build the great city of Teotihuacán. However, even with this vision, it would be several years before they found the power spot of his dreams.
One day, while hunting for food, a young warrior, ( a title that many Toltec shaman prefer to use meaning “spiritual warrior”), came across an opening in the Earth that led to a larger natural cave divided equally into 4 distinct chambers representing the 4 directions and elements of the shamanic world. North (earth), East (air), South (fire), and West (water). The cave itself represented the “underworld”. Immediately the ruling shaman knew they had come to the place of his visions. It was exactly as the Gods had shown him in his dreams. The power of this sacred place was extraordinary and to this day it pulsates with a regular rhythm as ley lines cross and intersect within the sacred cave creating a natural vortex of energy from the Earth Mother.
The next few months were spent honoring the Gods and Spirits of this sacred place as well as clearing the land and preparing shelters and a place for the shamans to worship and meditate ( most of this was done in the cave/tunnel system below). It would be almost two years before these Toltec people would see the first of the permanent structures built which would eventually lead to the great city of Teotihuacán. These early structures were built in approximately 200 B.C.E. and would serve the ruler of this new city for about another 70 years when he died at the ripe old age of 128.
The next couple of generations of the Toltec People would see little building as they focused more on learning to use the knowledge of the lineage on this power spot which seemed to enhance and awaken even more abilities in the Toltec shaman/sorcerers. Then in the year, 15 C.E shamans discovered techniques allowing them to manipulate some of the forces of nature such as lightning, wind, and gravity to a certain extent. They also found ways to use quartz and obsidian as tools of human intention similar to how a martial artist uses chi energy in their hands to deliver seemingly impossible blows. This ability allowed them to cut, and shape stones in ways that our “modern” technology has yet to realize.
So began the first explosion of building as the Pyramid of the Sun and Moon rose from the ground followed by the temple of Quetzalcoatl in the first of many building spurts of Teotihuacán. During this time, several other groups of local native people would trade with the Toltecs and later many of them joined in the building of the city. By this time the population of Teotihuacán neared 25 thousand. Over the next 300 years the population would top 100 thousand while structures, both religious and residential grew to fill the need of a thriving metropolis. By 600 C.E. the city was over 200 thousand people strong and the city was living up to its name as artists and craftsman and a variety of other artisans sold their work to the many travelers who frequented the city. Besides being a spiritual mecca, Teotihuacán had become a major trade center.
In 722 C.E., the great Toltec shaman/priest Kaana k’uch who now ruled this civilization of prosperity and spirituality, stood high on the Pyramid of the Sun and gazed out over his empire with the look of pride and power. Little did he realize that within his lifetime and under his rule, the great city of Teotihuacán would inhabited only by ghosts.
I would like to point out that the name of this great shamanic priest is only an approximation of the spelling and an indication of how other cultures today might have spelled his name. Remember, the Toltecs had no written language and all I have to go by is the way his name sounds which is accurate within the scope of the core knowledge. Kaana k’uch means roughly, “he who comes from the sky” and is phonically pronounced “Ca nah cooch” and as you will soon learn, he was the father of my direct shamanic lineage.
By now the city was nearly complete with two distinct areas, the residential area and the sacred area of the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, the avenue of the Dead and the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon. These pyramids are as large and amazing as any in the world and were considered to be power objects and amplifiers by the Toltec shaman/priests who were masters of the power they generated. These structures also held the entire history and wisdom of the Toltec empire as well as the secrets of the Cosmos, but not in the way you might think. While having no written language the shaman priests were still able to record and store massive libraries of knowledge about the Toltec empire as well as the Cosmos. This is a library that rivals the great legendary library of Alexandria.
The second half and most incredible and interesting part of this story will conclude in the next issue of this newsletter. You will not want to miss what is about to happen!
By Gwynalda Shadowalker
So, Spring has sprung, indeed. Last weekend, though, you wouldn’t have believed that our divine Mother Earth was having the warmest of this season on record. The storm that the Weather Channel meteorologists dubbed “Saturn” was still pummeling the Eastern U.S. from far out in the Atlantic, while Pacific-borne “Triton” swirled over the Rockies. It was blizzarding here in Denver. Just a couple of days before that, the thermostat nearly hit 70—folks were wandering around in shorts and sandals. Ah, well. Hopefully, they didn’t prematurely pack away their parkas and boots...
I’ve noticed that this time of year can be quite difficult— and not just because of the wildly fluctuating weather or the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder or raging hormones. It’s more than that. In terms of human relations, the fecal matter has an annoying tendency to hit the rotating blades during the weeks surrounding both equinoxes— especially the vernal one. For a long while, I wondered WHY this pattern kept repeating itself. Magickally, it makes sense. Those in between, transitional periods tend to be the most powerful and volatile. Many people look outside themselves for someone to blame for their own inner turmoil, and so they lash out.
(And I doubt that it’s a coincidence that the ancient Romans named this month after their God of War— Mars.)
I’ve experienced so many of these Spring-time conflicts within the Craft that it’s become a personal tradition to take cover between the Ides of March and the first week of April, which happens to coincide with my birthday. Last year, I broke with that tradition— and consequently got caught in the backlash from yet another pair of BFW-wannabes on a psycho-dramatic power trip. I spent entirely too much time and energy agonizing over what I could possibly have done or said to deserve those two women’s rancor. It was like living out an episode of “High Priestesses Behaving Badly.”
This year, I’ve decided to do something different: I’m taking the advice of Betsy Chasse and realizing that, “sometimes, people are just assholes and it has nothing to do with you.” Wow, what a liberating concept!
In the Tarot, this tendency that some of us have for taking responsibility for other people’s B.S. (which also manifests as “people pleasing”) is symbolized by the 10 of Wands. It’s an oppressive, self-imposed burden that we need to LET GO of in order to move forward freely on our own Path.
Common sense and common decency are, unfortunately, extremely rare commodities within the Pagan Community. Seriously, it just boggles my mind when people claiming to be Initiates and “High” Priests or “High” Priestesses treat their students and Coven-mates and one another so horribly. Aren’t we— as self-determining, enlightened Pagan folk— supposed to be better than that?
What would happen if kindness, courtesy and respect ruled the day?
What would our Pagan Community be like if, in addition to “harming none,” we also helped many? And it doesn’t have to cost us anything. A kind word, a smile, a sincere compliment can all go a long way towards creating good will. And a big ol’ heart-felt bear hug can work wonders when someone’s having a rough time.
Oh, and I just would like to say, “Thank You!” to all those thoughtful, kind-hearted souls who’ve been so generous with their encouraging words and hugs lately.
Happy Ostara, everyone! And Blessed Be—Gwynalda )O(
Trending Toward The Positive
By Evylyn Rose
Improving Our Attitude Toward Christians
As Witches, we demand tolerance, respect, and peace from others toward our beliefs. We accuse those same others of judging against us even when a deeper look into circumstances reveals otherwise. Meanwhile, like many within the Pagan community, we make hasty generalizations; lumping all Christians together with extremists, bigots, and the prejudice. Although this message of being the example we want to see in others applies to all faiths (even all areas of life), starting where the problem is most evident is easiest.
Nearly all of us go through some level of prejudice against Christians at some point in time, having come from Christian backgrounds and experiencing a certain extent of “we’re better” in the same way a teenager or young adult feels the need to differentiate themselves from an older sibling or parent. It’s almost as though we have to make it perfectly clear to all who will take the time to listen that we are not as corrupt, brainwashed, ignorant, etc. as we came to view the religious backgrounds we came from. There is nothing wrong with standing openly apart from the negativity we recognized, but that does not mean we have a right to judge others as negative by default simply because of their chosen religious affiliation.
This prejudice against Christians comes in many forms. For some, their prejudice is easy to spot. Badmouthing, wrongfully accusing, and venting over the tiniest of perceived wrongs is a daily, if not hourly, occurrence. We may recognize that they make some good points, but just as easily find ourselves tuning them out (when not calling them out on their negative behavior). For others, the prejudice is more subtle by comparison. Behaviors may include getting in arms about perceived instances of discrimination coming from Christians when they merely express their personal beliefs and making hasty generalizations when providing examples of the negativity that can be found within Christian literature and the like.
Even more subtle, we find ourselves having to point out that a concept or idea is even vaguely related to Christianity should not be frowned upon even when such a reaction does not occur. An example may be a Christian tradition that we should be okay with because it has Pagan roots. For those of us who have already gone through our stages of prejudice, became aware of them, checked our behavior, and moved past it, this subtle form of prejudice is perhaps the most annoying as it is the most dishonest.
Let’s look at a more specific example. In Kimberly Sherman-Cook’s In the Shadow of 13 Moons, she discusses the importance of practicing gratitude and developing traditions of thanksgiving. In providing an example, she states, “Take the last supper given by Christ—don’t cringe—and just think about what Jesus was doing with his group.” This sentence has a blatant prejudice attitude.
Here we see a Witch appearing on the surface to make a defense toward Christians. It’s almost a call toward building tolerance toward Christianity. Almost. You see, when you look a little deeper at commentary like this, it’s truly ridden with prejudice and negativity. Instead of spreading the message that we should be willing to accept (or at least open ourselves to being understanding of) Christian concepts and traditions, it more than simply suggests that it is not only normal but also acceptable to instantly have a negative reaction toward the proposal to recognize or adopt Christian traditions. Statements like “don’t cringe” put the idea into our heads that we should first react to anything Christian-based with a negative attitude before the possibility of opening our minds to it can occur. If someone did not already have such an attitude, which was what Sherman-Cook was trying to prepare for, they do afterwards.
In cases like these, if the author lacked any level of prejudice, then the additional commentary would have been viewed as unnecessary. Why should one cringe at anything positive regardless of what faith it originates from? What made that statement in In the Shadow of 13 Moons more unsettling was that it was a book on shadow work; learning to recognize and address the negative aspects of our behaviors, thoughts, reactions, etc. If we are to truly better ourselves, we should not pet that shadow-side that tells us to react negatively in such a way by suggesting it is normal to. Instead, we should be presented with the positive message. Should we be one of those who cringe at the suggestion, that is something to acknowledge and question.
We hear a lot in our studies on our paths that we must stop searching outside of ourselves for what we want. If we are to find the answers and be successful, we have to start by searching within. Therefore, if you want to be presented with tolerance and respect from others, you must start by reflecting on your own behaviors and attitudes.
Have you been disrespectful toward those you perceive as having judged your path negatively? Do you cringe at the thought of sharing in Christian traditions or incorporating Christian concepts into your personal theology? Do you make hasty generalizations and lump everyone of Christian affiliation with those you personally have negative experiences with or have heard bad stories about? Are you quick to jump into defense mode in conversation with Christians?
Have you ever stopped to question why? Are they telling you that you are wrong for walking your individual path, or simply sharing their personal beliefs with you? If you believe they are telling you that you are wrong, what words are they using? Could they mean something else and you simply misunderstood? Do you ever stand up for Christian friends or Christianity in general and feel that you must add statements to deflect any negative thoughts of others?
As you look for the answers to these and similar questions, try to stay out of defense mode. That is the ego shouting for attention. It wants you to be right and justified in anything it has deemed makes you who you are. Questioning and reflecting is what makes your faith stronger. If things must change and adapt, then that is what is for the best in reaching your full potential.
Keep in mind, also, that you cannot control how others feel and behave. If you truly are being judged against by others, that is their problem. They will need to ask themselves the same questions. They may never do it, but that is not something you have to do anything about. All you can do is focus on you; your behaviors and attitudes toward others. Leading by example and truly walking your talk completely is what encourages and creates real change in others over time. As you begin to have full tolerance and respect toward others by addressing your inner thoughts and feelings and outer behaviors and words, you will be amazed how much tolerance and respect is shown to you in return.
By Sean—V.H. Frater M.T.O.
Many western traditions are what can be termed, as Solar Orders or Groups. That is, they have their basis in the mysteries of ancient Egypt, among other ancient civilizations, to whom following the path of the Sun was of paramount importance. Ancient civilizations developed religious myths and dramas to try to explain the cycles of the Sun. The ancient Egyptians believed that when the sun set, it passed through the underworld, and its rising the next morning was a celebration of its successful journey.
The Sun has affected humans since the ‘dawn’ of time. It determines the timing of the planting of crops, the mating cycles of many species, the cycles of the hunter/gatherers, and to this day remains the primary source of life for our planet. Consider what your day would be like without the sun, then your week, month and year. Of course, no crops would grow, flowers would not bloom, and this would have a catastrophic domino effect on the entire planet, not to mention what the lack of its warmth and heat would do to the climate.
In the Western Mystery traditions, the position of the Sun should be of particular importance to its adherents. There are numerous examples of the Solar nature of the Western Mysteries found within various Traditions. The Hierophant, High Priest and/or Priestess and opening circle typically sit or begin in the East, the place of the rising of the sun. In the Golden Dawn tradition, the Hierophant’s throne is in the East, and is said to “symbolize the rise of the sun of life and light”; The Adoration to the Lord of the Universe is done while facing East; When entering the Temple, the Sign of the Enterer is given towards the East; Indeed, the very name of our Order itself, is “The Golden Dawn”.
So, what is the Equinox? Most people are familiar with the Equinox and Solstice’s, but for those who may not be, here is a short definition. As the Earth moves around the Sun, due to the angle of rotation of our planet, not all ‘days’ are created equal. The Equinox’s, in March and September, mark the days when the division between “Daytime” and “Nighttime” are equal, that is 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of darkness. The Solstice’s, in June and December, mark the periods of the longest daylight, and the longest darkness respectively. The following picture helps to illustrate these changes.
For those involved in a Solar Order or tradition, the Equinox’s are a special time of year. They represent the time when the Light and the Dark is in perfect balance. Just like the Pillars of the Kabbalah and the Pillars of the Temple, they are in perfect equilibrium. That is why it is at that time of year that many orders and groups celebrate the Equinox, in order to connect to the solar energies, as well as renew and refresh the energies within group’s egregore, sometimes referred to the ‘group mind’ of a practicing magical group. This is the period of rejuvenation and energy for not only groups, temples, circles and covens, but also for the individual practitioner. It can also serve as a time to link the group mind, to the greater group mind or ‘Current’ of a given path. For example, each Equinox, our Temple’s perform a group meditation on the Equinox, which is a powerful connecting force, and unites us all together in the Great Work, along with linking us to all other well intentioned Temples and practitioners of the Golden Dawn system.
If you are unable to make an Equinox Celebration, then a solo equinox ritual can still be a great ritual to do to rejuvenate and invigorate you for your magical work for the upcoming six months. This will connect you to the solar currents of energy that permeate Western Mysteries, and will provide a personal connection to them.
In his book “Equinox and Solstice Ceremonies of the Golden Dawn”, Pat Zalewski has the following to say regarding the Equinox’s:
So the Vernal Equinox represents a great time for expanding and enriching our temple and our group, while the Autumnal Equinox is a good time for reflection and working on the individual. To continue quoting Pat Zalewski:
"The Golden Dawn recognizes the psychic effect of the Sun and uses the energies of its cycles, like most other cults and Hermetic Orders, in the Four Cardinal Point ceremonies: Equinoxes and Solstices. Contrary to popular belief, the Golden Dawn has not only an Equinox ceremony for Autumn and Spring, but also a Summer Solstice ceremony at the feast of Corpus Christi—the consecration of the Vault of the Adepti."
The two astrological bodies which have the greatest impact on us and our planet are the Sun and the Moon. The Moon influences our gravitational field, tides and the inhabitants of our planet. Scientific studies have shown that there is a rise in crime, accidents, emergency room visits and many other aspects of human behavior during the period of a full moon. Likewise, our Sun can have sudden and dramatic effects on our planet. We are currently heading into a period of time when the Sun’s energy is on the increase, and nearing its maximum output for this cycle. Sun spots and solar eruptions can disrupt electronics, satellites, power grids and behavior as well.
As we head into the time leading up to the current Equinox, I encourage everyone to try to take notice of the Sun and its energies. Spend some time in the rays of the sun, if possible do some ritual work or even prayers or adorations in the light of the sun, and see if your perspective changes, or if you can feel these solar energies more strongly. Be conscious of the Sun and its effect on those things around you; vegetation, trees animals and people. Feel the buildup of the energies of the Sun as we move towards the Equinox, and we prepare for the Celebration of the Equinox and our meditations and rituals to link us individually as magicians, to the energies of the Sun, the giver of life to our planet, and source of energy for many of the Western Mystery traditions.
Sean-V.H. Frater M.T.O.
Recipes for This Month's Herb
4 cups fresh Red Clover blossoms
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