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Witch Way, Volume #1 Issue #2 -- Witches, and Pagans, and Cops, Oh My!
July 13, 2008
Happy Lughnasadh!

Ken's Korner

Itís been an interesting and eventful month. I canít believe that itís already time for the next issue of Witch Way to go out.

Itís the July 4th holiday weekend as I write this, Iím writing this a bit early because as you read these words, I will be in a car on my way back home from southeastern Kansas.

I may actually need to write the August Witch Way as soon as the July issue goes out, since Iíll be up at the Dragonfest site from August 2nd through 11th.

Anyway, there have been some events that I thought noteworthy enough to talk about.

Witches in the newspaper

A few weeks ago, I was asked by the owner of our local Pagan coffee shop The Witches Brew, (If they had a website, I would give the link here) if I would be willing to take part in a ritual for the local paper to photograph.

Being the shy, introverted person that I am, you know I had to accept!

So we met on a Sunday morning, at the coffee shop. Kantis had hot coffee for us, and we went about getting ready to do a simple Midsummer ritual.

John Roesch, the Priest who put the ritual together for Kantis, unloaded his gear from the trunk of his car, and set about creating Sacred Space. The interview part of the article had been done a few weeks earlier. All the paper wanted was a picture to go along with the article.

The photographer showed up, and the ritual began. It was a wonderful little ritual that John wrote for this yearís Midsummer celebration that had been pressed into service for this occasion.

As the meditation ended, I noticed a Denver Police cruiser pull into the park, and stop. The cop had turned around and pulled over where he could watch what we were doing from his vantage point in the parking lot.

The ritual concluded, and the Circle was opened. The Denver cop pulled away as the Circle was opened. Oh, did I mention that John was using a sword to cast, and call the Quarters? My bad...

The newspaper photographer really had no idea what he had just witnessed, this was just an assignment, but he shot a lot of pictures with two cameras. He did seem genuinely interested in making sure that he got the names spelled correctly.

As we got all the gear back into the trunk of Johnís car, I spotted Kantis over talking to the Denver cop.

The newspaper photographer left, and the rest of us headed back across the street to the Brew. I lingered a moment next to Kantis, as she finished up her conversation with the cop. We all got back to the Brew, and Kantis exclaimed, ďWell, that was interesting.Ē

As it turns out, the cop had asked her if we were doing a Handfasting. Kantis explained that it was a Midsummer ritual for the paper, and that she was a bit surprised the cop knew what a handfasting was. The cop explained that he was an ďOld Hippie PaganĒ, who had been to the Brew once or twice, just not in uniform.

It seems we really are everywhere, and this is a story you wonít be reading in the newspaper article. I was very happy to see a positive article about Witchcraft, and not anywhere near Samhain. The reporter has already said she wants to do an article on Pagan Pride in September.

Time of The Season

Itís that time of the year again! Itís the first of the Harvest Festivals! Itís Lughnasadh!

Ok, I admit maybe Iím getting a little carried away. Actually, Iím just trying to make up for the lack of enthusiasm I usually see for this holiday.

Maybe itís just here in Denver, where everyone is so focused on Dragonfest, which happens the second weekend of August, that the holiday just gets pushed aside.

Maybe not.

Of the other seven holidays in the year, I have vivid memories of rituals for each. Not Lughnasadh. There have been rituals for the holiday, but it seems that this holiday just goes unnoticed for the most part.

Lughnasadh is the beginning of the last quarter of the Celtic year. Named for Lugh, the Celtic God who held funerary games in honor of his foster mother Tailtiu, Goddess of agriculture, who died while clearing the Irish forests to make way for farm land.

Lughnasadh is also called Lammas, which may be the contraction of the words ďLoaf MassĒ, which was a ceremony done in the middle ages by the Catholic Church.

Loaves of bread were baked and blessed, to mark the beginning of harvest. This was the culmination of the peasantís year. They had been working six days a week, sun up to sun down, or 14 to 18 hours a day, tending the fields.

This grain that was now being produced, would be what carried them through the long winter...if there was enough.

Oats, barley, and wheat were all grown, and fed both livestock and people. If the grain got wet, it would either mold, or germinate. In either case, it would be useless for eating, though the resourceful people did find a use for grain that sprouted.

They made beer.

Grain that has begun to germinate, is called Ďmaltí, and is used heavily in the making of beer. Benjamin Franklin may have made the phrase, ďWaste not, want notĒ popular, but he certainly didnít come up with the idea.

There were also various insects, rats, and other vermin that could ruin the store of grain, if they got to it.

We call what we eat for breakfast cereal, because it most likely is made from cereal grains. We are still extremely dependent on these grains for survival.

Lughnasadh, was our ancestors recognizing that without the grain, we simply could not live. Itís not even a matter of not living well, we just would not survive.

It is the survival aspect that is enacted when we do a Lughnasadh ritual about the Corn King. The Corn King is an old story with many variations.

Basically, the idea is that someone is chosen each year, to be the Corn King. That person spends the year with every wish being fulfilled by the people of the village.

There is nothing the Corn King wants for, no matter what it may be. It truly is a life of luxury.

On Lughnasadh, the Corn King is brought out dressed all in white, and his life is celebrated. He has reigned over a fruitful year hopefully, and now it is time for him to ensure the next yearís success.

There, at the edge of the fields, in full view of everyone in the village, the Corn King is killed. His lifeís blood is gathered, and poured over all the fields, to ensure that they are fruitful the next year.

People soak themselves in the blood, and run through the fields and to other villages, proclaiming, ďThe Corn King is dead! Long live the Corn King!Ē

Modern society looks at human sacrifice as distasteful and barbaric. We condemn our ancestors for practices that we see as cruel, and inhuman, yet we do not look at the reasons behind them.

Actually, I doubt that human sacrifice was ever carried out, at least not in Europe, and certainly not on a regular basis. If such a sacrifice were to be carried out, it would have been an act of desperation.

Life is Sacred. If drought, or blight had been going on for several years, the sacrifice of something so precious might be thought about. Sacrifice of anything is very serious. It isnít a sacrifice if itís easy to give up.

If a human was to be sacrificed, it would have been because there was no other alternative. If you ever get the chance, rent the original Wickerman, with Christopher Lee.

In order to be a sacrifice, that which is lost, must be dear to the one losing it, and not given up easily. In our rituals, we substitute grain for people, and the sacrifice is a mock death, but the meaning behind the pageantry and drama should always be foremost in our minds.

Grain is life. Life is sacrifice.

And So It Begins...

Patricia LaGuardia

It's kind of hard knowing where to begin since I really don't remember having a starting point.

I can tell you some of the earliest memories of how I grew up. My mother was one of 14 children from an Italian/Sicilian family. (Yes there is a difference! LOL) One of the earliest rituals I remember is my Aunt taking a silver knife, and placing it over the area of my third eye. I was terrified! At the age of 4 I knew that knives could hurt.

She spoke to me in a calm voice and said, "Honey, this is so you will see better". I had NO idea what she was talking about. I thought I could see fine, I didn't need glasses.

She started telling me that when I was born, there was a "veil" over my face. I said what's the "veil"? She said, special people are born with this. And that I was different from most. That I would "know" things.

As time went on I can remember "knowing". Sometimes through dreams, sometimes by a feeling. I can remember one summer night, it was perfect. A slight breeze coming through the windows of my bedroom. The sheer curtains moving gracefully as I felt the breeze on my face.

I remember wanting to go outside in the warm summer night. I went flying! Flying down the stairs, through the door, circled the lamp post and flew back into my bed. It wasn't till I had reached adulthood the term Out of Body Experience, or astral travel was heard. I would have the most vivid dreams. Dreams of what was going to happen the next day. Dreams of people being sick and dying. Dreams of my family. They were always in color. Some scared me so much I went and slept with my mother. My mother, the most beautiful woman ever, taught me so many things. We would stay up late at night, and have "tea". I remember her boiling the water in a teapot on a gas stove.

She used a special cup. A porcelain one. She would pour hot water into the cup, add loose tea leaves, then let them settle.

She'd look at me and say, "Concentrate on a question". She would pick up the cup, turn it upside down, turn it 3 times. Then place the cup upright on the table. I would stare into the cup and see images. She said, "this is the world around you, this is where you can find answers". In the old country as they call it, we had our "traditions". I went to a Catholic school (I have the flat knuckles to prove it) and for the most part, thought that our tradition was Catholic.

We had statues of Mary and the Infant of Prague on the table with candles in front of each. If I wanted something badly, I would write on a piece of paper exactly what I wanted, place it under the statue of Mary, light the candle and say a prayer.

What I learned was a way of the Craft blended with Catholicism so that it would look "natural" in the mainstream religion. Some call it Strega.

Remember, the Vatican is in Italy, and due to conversion by any means possible, the pagan religion was assimilated into Catholicism. People of the Craft had to hide their personal beliefs, what we did at home, how we felt, in order not to be called a heretic or even worse, be excommunicated. When someone died, we always put a black cloth over the mirrors, and turned the statues around. The purpose, so the spirit couldn't come through the mirror. The statues would face the mirror for protection.

I can remember my mother taking me into the country looking for herbs. One in particular was burdock root. These days some people call it cat tails. At the age of 4 I was told how to cook the root and what its properties were. How it would help the body. When I was little, I never heard "the rule of three" or "the Rede". I was taught take responsibility, do what needs to be done, don't question yourself or your work. But, there was always a warning, a big warning.

Be careful what you wish upon others because it might come back to you.

There's so much more, someday I'll tell you about scrying with olive oil.

If you have an article you'd like to submit as a guest author for Witch Way, or for the main website, go to the Contact Page and click Submissions in the drop down box. Let me know what the article is about, and I will reply back to you so that you can attach it in an email.

Articles for Witch Way should be around 500 words, and those for should be around 2000 words.

Until next month, may you be blessed in all that you do, or as we usually say,

Blessed Be,
Ken Biles

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