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[Witch Way] Volume #5 Issue #2 -- Starting The Second Half of The Year
July 13, 2012
Hi, Happy Lughnasadh!

Ken's Korner

Here we are past Midsummer already. I’ve always heard that the older you get, the faster time seems to go. I have found that it is absolutely true. I have a theory on why, but I won’t bore you with it.

The last few months have been busy and very interesting for me. I have discovered revelation after revelation about myself, my Craft, and how I might help others to discover just how Witchcraft can help them get the life they really want. I’ve always known that the purpose of spirituality is to help people become better, to reach their full potential. The problem was how to do it with Witchcraft.

Of course the answer was staring me right in the face the entire time, but like most everyone else, I had been concentrating on rituals and magick. Rituals and magick are a major part of our belief system, but like sex in a relationship, they aren’t the most important. This may sound like heresy to you, or you may find your curiosity piqued.

In either case, I can tell you that what I have discovered is the Path less travelled. That means it is not the easy road. I am as excited about my Craft now, as I was when I first discovered it. I have always followed this Path less travelled, I just didn’t recognize that I was travelling it. I also discovered that if I don’t follow this Path, my life falls apart.

I owe a huge debt of thanks to Magni Thorson, who first put voice to the steps of the Path, even though he didn’t know that’s what he was doing. There are advantages to hanging around big Viking warriors, if you can handle what they throw at you. It was thanks to Magni, that I was able to attend Blot with his Kin for a couple of years, and it was there that I recognized the pieces of my Path.

I am not now, nor will I ever be a Norse Heathen. That is not my Path, and I know it, but standing there in ritual with Heathens from around the state, I heard concepts used to describe what a person should be. I don’t say what a spiritual person should be, because a person’s spiritual life, and their everyday life are the same. That was the first key. Understanding that my spiritual life is not separate from my daily life. They are not two separate things, they are a single life.

Other concepts were also voiced, that rang like a bell of truth in my soul. Respect, responsibility, honor, discipline, truth, self-reliance, perseverance, fidelity, and hospitality. These are what the Norse Heathens call The Nine Virtues. Do a Google search for the nine virtues, and read what comes up. These Virtues were the start of something life changing for me. I had known and understood them, and I had done my best to live my life around them simply because it was the right thing to do.

What I hadn’t done, was make a conscious choice to live by those concepts. It is the conscious act to do something that awakens it within you. I suddenly realized why so many Witches are just going through the motions of Witchcraft. Not a single book out there, talks about how you are supposed to live your Craft. Every book is focused on teaching some new variation of the same old stuff. Not a single author has realized that spirituality goes beyond doing rituals and spells, or at least, they haven’t written about it.

If you’ve come to the point where you realize that you’re not getting anything useful from the new books that come out, if you recognize that something has been missing in your life, but you can’t put your finger on it, if you are ready to make your life into what you want, instead of letting your life take you where it will, keep reading this column. In the months to come, I am going to show you how to have everything you’ve ever wanted out of life, but I have to warn you, it won’t be easy, and most won’t have what it takes.

You see, the Tenth Virtue is hard work.

This month, we’ve added a new columnist to Witch Way. Evylyn Rose will be writing about living your Witchcraft out in the world beyond spells and rituals. I feel this is exactly where we as Witches need to go, in order to grow into our full potential. I’m not talking about leaving the Broom Closet, I’m talking about living your Craft.

Blessed Be,
Ken

Ken Biles



The Witching Hour

by Marcus Leader

The Witchcraft of Bridget Bishop (1633-1692)

For the last few months I have been writing about energy and energy manipulation as it pertains to magick which I learned during my eight year apprenticeship in Toltec shamanism. I have decided to break the pattern with my July article by sharing some unknown personal information about a person who many of you may be familiar with if you have ever read about the infamous Salem witchcraft trials of 1692. Her name was Bridget Bishop and she has the unfortunate notoriety of being the very first person to be hung in the Salem Witch trials of 1692. She was also my aunt on my mother’s side of the family.

I do not want to rehash a lot of the historical stuff that you can read online or in books. Instead, I am going to reveal some unknown information about her that has been passed down through the generations of the Bishop line to me through my own great aunt in the late 1960’s. While I have mentioned my relationship with Bridget Bishop in the past on my radio show, The Shamans Brew, I have never given out any of the detailed information that has been kept within the family all these generations, until now.

In the late 1960’s I came across a very old book that contained the entire genealogy of my mother’s side of the family (the Bishops). The records started in the 15th century and had been kept current by many different family members over the centuries. At this time, the caretaker of the records was my great aunt Bishop who lived in the Los Angeles area of California. When I discovered this I was super excited, because I now had two famous people in my ancestral past (Robert Burns the famous Scottish poet being the other). I was just starting high school and already had a deep interest in the paranormal and witchcraft so this new knowledge really helped shape the path I now walk.

Unfortunately, I had to keep my studies and interests to myself, because, my family were very strict Christians and thought that it was shameful that we had someone in our families past who consorted with the devil. That and society in the 70’s was just not ready to openly talk about witchcraft. So I could only talk to my great aunt about these things and our talks were very infrequent. On my last meeting with her before she died, she gave me a very old box containing a few personal artifacts that belonged to Bridget Bishop. I was in awe holding these heirlooms and couldn’t believe that I now owned them. On first examination they seemed like an odd collection of items, just a hand carved hairbrush ( with hair strands), a very old glass bottle, and a deteriorated handmade doll or rather part of a doll made from some very brittle and dry organic material like the stalk of a plant or possibly cornhusks.

At that time I did not fully appreciate the significance of these items, in fact it was only in the last 10 years that the magnitude of what these items implied really sunk in. These were not just personal belonging of Bridget Bishop’s these were items used in witchcraft! It is believed that most of the people executed in the trials were just innocent victims of a hysteria or land grab that had the village in a grip of fear. But now, I had in my possession artifacts belonging to one of those victims that substantiated some of the accusations.

After compiling everything I had learned about Bridget Bishop from my Great aunt in California along with everything I have been able to find, including books that I own which go back to the 1700’s, My aunt Bridget Bishop was practicing some form of witchcraft. Of course we know that it had nothing to do with Satan or the devil and was probably not even of a religious nature, but she was using a form of sympathetic magic using poppets. In addition to this, I have been able to uncover that she was very knowledgeable about herbs and their uses. The old bottle that I have has a strong smell of a mixture of herbs which were probably soaked in either alcohol or oil and used for either healing or magick.

Interesting thing to note is that the most damning evidence in her trial was from a testimony from John Bly who was hired by Bridget to dismantle her basement when she built a new home. He claimed to find poppets and pins behind a loose stone in the wall.

So it seems that at least one of the people executed during the Salem witchcraft trials really was involved in some form of magickal art most likely folk magick. Did she deserve to die? Of course not, but the people of Salem Village thought different. Bridget was actually accused of witchcraft in 1680 but was cleared on those charges for some unknown reason. However, on June 10th of 1692 she was not so fortunate.

I am planning a future expedition to Salem to find out more about my infamous aunt. I will be using advanced dowsing techniques and a few other little tricks I have up my sleeve to possibly find other artifacts and hopefully, all or part of her remains if any still exist. Now that might sound a little macabre to some of you, but keep in mind that when they hung the victims on Gallows hill the bodies were left to dangle for all to see. When they were cut down, they were not allowed to be buried and the bodies rolled down the hill and supposedly were just left there to decay. Chances are that none of the bones are left, but if there is I might be able to find them using an advanced Toltec scrying method which makes use of genetic material which I happen to have in the hair brush! I will give updates through this newsletter when that expedition takes place.





Betwixt & Between
Merry Meet fellow Witches and Wiccans and Pagans! I hope that you and yours are doing well in the midst of this season (Summer in the North, and Winter in the South) upon this divine planet that we call Earth.

So, some of you may be wondering, “Who is this Witch named Gwynalda? And why the heck is she writing this column?” Those are really good questions, ya’ll. And now that I’m no longer under the mistaken impression that “Betwixt & Between” is limited to about 500 words or so, I’ll endeavor to answer them.

So, who am I? Well, I’ve been studying Witchcraft since 1990. I have extensive knowledge and experience in Wicca, Paganism, and Magick, as well as a professional background in publishing. I’m a Traditional (Reformed) Eclectic Witch and Wiccan Priestess. And by “Wiccan” I mean a practitioner of modern neo-Pagan Witchcraft.

Wicca is an experiential, life-affirming, Nature-based religion of mystery and magick. Wicca recognizes and celebrates the divine feminine in relation to the divine masculine as expressed through the myths and legends of the Gods and Goddesses from many ancient cultures. We recognize the immanence of deity within ourselves and Nature, as well as Otherworldly and Cosmic realms. If asked, I would define this spiritual path as one of (Neo)Pagan Polytheistic Panentheism. (And no, that’s not a typo. If you’d like, you can Google “panentheism vs. pantheism” and see what happens.)

As an inveterate bookworm, I get excited every time I’m asked to recommend a book about Wicca, Paganism, or Magick. (Indeed, my “recommended reading lists” for my Wicca 101 classes just keep on growing!) Favorite “classic” authors include Scott Cunningham, Doreen Valiente, and the Farrars. More recent favorites include Kerr Cuhulain, Christopher Penczak, Judith Page and Ken Biles.

In my mundane life, I have an honors degree in English Literature from Cornell University in upstate New York. I applied there after watching Astronomy Professor Carl Sagan’s PBS series Cosmos. I adored that show. And then when I visited the campus, I fell in love with the place. It’s absolutely gorgeous. (Or, at least it is when the sun comes out—which only happens during orientation week in late August and then right before finals in May. Yes, far above Cayuga’s waters is where all the clouds go to die, or so they say.)

In the late 1980s, I became a spiritual seeker in earnest. I completed a series of Creative Visualization courses, as well as the Silva Mind Method. And then at the Open Center’s bookstore, I discovered Positive Magic by Marion Weinstein.

In 1990, I came home to the Craft in New York City. Phyllis Curott’s Book of Shadows pretty accurately describes my early Wiccan training in fictional form. While in NYC, I worked with two different Covens: one a Welsh Traditional/Pagan Way, and the other a Celtic/Teutonic Eclectic Teaching Collective. I am a 3rd-Degree Initiate and High Priestess of the Shadowfolk Tradition via the founding High Priest (who is also a 3rd-Degree Alexandrian).

While in NYC, I studied a variety of other Occult-related topics, including: Astrology (NCGR I), Tarot, Runes, Transpersonal Psychology, Pathworking, Meditation, Past Life Regression, Shamanism, World History & Mythology, Numerology, Chakras, Reiki, Crystals & Stones, Herbalism, and Method Acting.

Through independent study, I have also explored Ceremonial Magick, Qabala, and Hermeticism. My leanings in this area are primarily Golden Dawn-related. Favorite authors include Israel Regardie, Dion Fortune, Charles Richard Foster Seymour, Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki, Donald Michael Kraig (Modern Magick is absolutely brilliant!) and the Ciceros.

In 1998, I moved to Denver, Colorado, and shortly thereafter underwent formal instruction as a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist (CCH).

From January 2002 through December 2005, I was a member of the faculty for the (now defunct) College of Wicca & Old Lore here in Denver. We taught Wicca Basics and a “Year-and-a-Day” training program. The College also sponsored student rituals for the eight Sabbats and some of the Esbats. In August of 2002, we facilitated a main ritual for more than 400 celebrants at Dragonfest.

In the Spring of 2006, I withdrew from the local Pagan Community and became a Solitaire—for nearly six years. (Yes, well, long story. I now refer to that as my “Mystical Hermitage” phase. Nevermind.)

On Mabon (September 23rd) of last year, I began the long, slow process of re-emergence as a newly-revived Rip Van Winkle TechnoPagan. And ‘lo and behold, who did I find online and dare to make first contact with in the local Pagan Community?

Oh, right. It was with that guy I knew ages ago who now happened to have a Website called CyberWitchcraft.com. (Wow, and who knew that he could write so well?) And holy moly, he was also the co-author of a new book titled Invoking the Egyptian Gods that was about to be published by Llewellyn. Oh, my Goddess! That was some sort of a sign—as I’m one of the very few Witches around who’s always enjoyed walking (and dancing) like an Egyptian.

Here’s an excerpt from that first e-mail that I sent to Ken last Mabon:

Long time, no see... (not just you—I was {still am?} on an extended sabbatical from all things Wiccan/Pagan-Community {people}-oriented for a very looooooonnnng time...)

Now, I feel I'm being Called back...

and I'm scared excrementless.

Have you ever hollered “HELP!!!” into the void to the Goddess when you were at the end of your rope and ready to completely give up & let go? If so, did She respond almost right away from the most unexpected quarter?

Well, She recently did so for me, and it totally freaked me out. I'd completely lost faith, you see, and hadn't really expected an answer...

And, oddly enough, which Goddess did I send that “Help” flare to last year? Hint: She’s the same one that Ken wrote the final version of the chapter for in his book— Hathor, “Mistress of Joy and Music.”

Blessed Be—Gwynalda )O(





Trending Toward The Positive

By Evylyn Rose

Taking a Lesson from Recent Events

Looking at a map of the fires in Colorado, one would think the whole state was burning down. Yet as we zoom in closer to view the communities, we see that the fires have woken the people up. Some have lost homes and a few lost their lives; however, for each of them, there are many others who are helping out. Individuals, organizations, and businesses come together to fight the fear in one way or another.

Some offer their services, such as the brave firemen, pilots, and volunteers who are keeping the fires at bay the best they possibly can. Others offer supplies, resources, and even their own homes to those who are displaced. Some businesses near evacuation areas remain open despite the potential for added financial loss for no other reason than to serve as beacons of hope.

This peace, cooperation, compassion, and love nearly always come out during tragic and traumatizing times. Entire nations can release long held grudges in light of tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, and a myriad of other natural disasters. During these times, it is the community at large that is central.

Although they remain important, individual beliefs, lifestyles, preferences, subcultures, and the like do not interfere with the need and desire to relieve the hurt of those affected. As we witness the overall human response to natural phenomenon, we find pride in our species and a sense of renewed hope that we can build a more perfect future. Why, then, does this pride and hope go right out the window once the threat of danger has passed?

Many factors are involved in the rapid decline of the peace and compassion after the initial clean-up of a disaster. Some of them are frustrations with the aftermath, judgments against explanations for why an event occurred, unnecessary commentary and unnecessary responses to them, a desire to return to “normalcy” without learning from the event, denial, and countless others. Although these events most certainly wake people up, they cannot keep them that way.

Fires, tsunamis, tornados, and other natural disasters sweep through and cleanse the negativity of the land. The loss of the status quo forces individuals to become aware. However, how can these individuals, who have lived the majority or whole of their lives asleep, suddenly know how to stay awake? How can they be expected to become more perfect individuals all because their usual lives were shaken to the core?

This is where the role of the witch comes in. As witches, we are a vital part of this community at large. Though we are generally misunderstood and sometimes outright discriminated against on this level, we are undeniably on a path of service. We are expected to help others and show the compassion and lack of judgment that other members of the larger community fail to deliver.

This is not to say that all witches are meant to stand in the spotlight as some sort of ambassadors of love and light. To the contrary, we are also expected to take action against wrongdoers and strike back in the defense of the community even when we feel forced into seclusion. Sometimes we must opt for tough love as opposed to the sparkly-rainbows-and-chocolate love. No matter which form, however, we are expected to act always with love.

Truth be told, we cannot help those who do not wish to be helped. This is why we do not proselytize; there is no point in trying to convince others of truths that are not currently true for them. It is not uncommon to feel frustrated looking out into a society so focused on material gain and living only to reach a destination of high expectations. Where is the concern for fellow man? Why are they not putting the planet, which sustains us, first? What is the purpose in medicating children for being children? How can people just sit back and talk about the atrocities of the world and not act to resolve them?

These and a world full of other questions prevent us from recognizing what we are here to do. The questions are valid and worth reflecting on; however, the answers are unimportant. If we are too focused on those we cannot help at the moment, we will miss the opportunities to help those who are ready and in need.

As witches, we provide service to others in various ways. We may specialize in herbal lore, crystals, divination, spirit communication, teaching, counseling, higher magick, and many other areas associated with witchcraft. Some of us are very vocal about who we are and what we can do for others. Others of us are more subtle, standing ready to help those in need but not going out of our way to announce our skills. Depending upon circumstances and the immediate environment, some witches may have to go so far as to hide who they are completely.

The one aspect that remains constant, however, is that a witch does not turn away those who need them. Religion, heritage, behaviors, indulgences, and other characteristics are unimportant to the witch when it comes to helping others. Despite our differences, we are all the same, just as the community at large recognizes during natural disaster. When the smoke clears, we will be the ones still standing and prepared to guide those who are affected toward the individuals they are changing into.

So the next time you find yourself frustrated with the world we live in, judging others harshly, or forgetting who you are and what you are here to do, take a minute to stop. Simply stop your thoughts, breathe, and observe the environment around you with your ego on mute. Look at any current or past disasters and take a lesson from those who chose to act. Recognize that there are those in the world that you cannot or should not help (more on this later) and then focus on those you can. You have the power to stand on your own two feet. Don’t waste it being bitter or depressed. Take that energy and do something positive with it instead.

Blessings,
Evy







If you have an article you'd like to submit as a guest author for Witch Way, or for CyberWitchcraft, 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 at least 500 words, and those for CyberWitchcraft should be around 2000 words.

If you have any comments or suggestions, you can go to the Contact Page on CyberWitchcraft, or simply reply to this email. This newsletter and the website are created for you, your thoughts and ideas are important to us.

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

Blessed Be,
Graphic Signature

Ken Biles


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