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[Witch Way] Volume #5 Issue #5 -- The Celtic New Year!
October 13, 2012
|Hi, Happy Samhain!
Here we are at the beginning of the fourth quarter of the year. Ok, I work for a financial firm, I’m used to looking at Quarter End. Just three more months till Yule, so it must be Samhain! A couple of years ago I produced a short video on Samhain.
Samhain is the end of the current life cycle, the time of Death. I have friends who dislike it when I say that the world around us is dying, they prefer to call it sleeping. The trees and the grasses and some plants are indeed sleeping until next Spring, but having lost all their leaves, and turned brown, they might as well be dead.
What I point out to these friends is that Death is not the end of life, it is only a transition. Life is renewed again at a later time. Whether you believe in a Heaven, or a Summerland, or basic Reincarnation, you believe that life is renewed in some form after death. So again I say Samhain is the time of Death.
People are naturally afraid of Death. We fear the unknown. If you subscribe to the idea of evolution, fear of the unknown is one of the things that kept our primitive ancestors from venturing too far, and ending up dead. Fear of Death is part of who we are, and fear is one of the things that remind us that we are alive. I suppose that is why we as a species enjoy being scared at times. Why we actively seek out experiences that are frightening, like bungee jumping and haunted houses.
But Death is different. For those left behind when someone close to us dies, Death is permanent. Those who die, never come back to us. Ancient cultures looked around them and saw the world come back from Death every Spring, but their friends and family didn’t. Why was that? The world around them came back to life each Spring, so their friends and family must also, but perhaps somewhere else, or as someone else.
Death is the ultimate Unknown. No one who has been there, has ever come back to tell us about it. Sure, with modern science, people have been dead a few minutes, and been revived, but what can you really know about a place you’ve only seen the entrance of? No one who has been dead long enough to really explore it, has ever come back. It is a one way trip, and the living aren’t allowed.
So humans make up stories and Myths about it. We surround them with ritual and tradition, all in an effort to comfort ourselves. We choose to believe these stories, Myths, and Traditions, or not. Whether you believe these things or not, the one thing we can say for sure about Death, is that it frees you from this life, with all its troubles, trials and pain. We hope the joy and love remain.
Because we are human, we choose to focus on the here and now. Death is put off to some distant future so we don’t have to think about it. It is uncomfortable to think about, so we choose not to. With our medical science, we can extend life far beyond what was considered normal just a couple of centuries ago. Back then, a person of 40 was an Elder, and anyone who reached 50 was ancient and wise, because so few ever did.
Life was short and hard. If you didn’t work hard enough to grow enough grain to last through the coming Winter, you would starve. Death was so much more real to people then, because it was constantly with us. People you knew died every month. There was starvation and cold in the winter, and sickness the rest of the year. It’s only natural that we would celebrate this part of life, even if we did so fearfully.
Death is a part of life. None of us are getting out of this alive. Nothing is for sure except Death and taxes. The price of life, is Death. All must pay the Ferryman eventually. These are all truisms that cultures have created to remind us all that nothing lasts forever, and if nothing lasts forever, then Death must not either.
Again we look at the world around us, comfortable in the knowledge that in six months from now new life will spring forth from the death of today. Like a phoenix, rising from its own ashes, life is renewed. Therefore doesn’t it seem logical that we too are renewed after Death?
All religions treat Death as the first step to a better life. Some have used it as a tool to rule in fear in the past. Some still do, but if you look at the writings of their books, each gives a promise of life after Death. The difference between us and them is that we do not believe we go to some Paradise for Eternity, we believe we go somewhere to rest, in order to return. Sure, the Norse have Valhalla, where everyone drinks and parties with their Gods, but they also believe that those Heroes and warriors will be called on to fight one last battle at the end of the World. A battle which most will not survive.
Witches tend to believe that we will be reborn into a new life. Hopefully we have learned the lessons in this life, and can learn new ones in the next. Each time becoming closer to the Divine until there is no need to return to life, and we can again return to the Divine as an equal.
So we celebrate this time of Death with abandon. We mock Death. We dare it to come. We surround ourselves with its symbols to show it we are not afraid. Those of us who look beyond the veil every year at this time, see the spirits of those who’ve passed, move on to their next stage of Life. We try to peer into the future, we commune with the dead, and we are comforted that when our time comes, others will be there to do the same for us.
Celebrating Death at this time each year is a wonderful thing. It reminds us that this life is finite, it will end. Probably sooner than we’d like. With that reminder of our mortality, is the reminder that we only have a limited amount of time to do the things we want to do. It reminds us that if we want to do them, we must do them now, not later. Later may never come.
So to you the living, who are reading these words, I charge you with looking at your life and finding or rediscovering the things you really want to do. Stop telling yourself that you’ll do it someday. Start planning today, with the intent of doing them tomorrow. I have just returned from a trip to Europe. I have seen sights that we as Pagans think of when we look to our Pagan roots.
These are sights that most Pagans will never see except on video, and I have been enriched by experiencing them. Stop waiting for “Someday”, and begin enriching yourself today, right this minute. Make a list of the things you want to do, and then start finding ways to do them. Those who have been reading this newsletter for a while know I’m not rich. I have no money to just go exotic places. I chose to put the money aside, and take this trip because it was something I really wanted to do.
I must go back. I didn’t see nearly enough of what I wanted to. So I will set money aside to make more trips. I also want to help you to find your Spiritual self. I want to show you how you can use Witchcraft to do all the things you want to. This is what I want to do. What is it you want to do? Decide, and then do it. Death will come for you long before you want it to. Will you regret all the things you should have done, could have done, or wanted to do?
The Witching Hour
by Marcus Leader
By whatever name it still remains my favorite festival of the year.
Marking the beginning of the witches wheel of the year, Samhain stirs passions and triggers excitement in both pagans and non-pagans alike. A time when the world of the living and the world of the spirit begin to merge at their outer fringes opening up doorways and portals where the spirits of the dead and other entities may enter our world for brief moments of time. A time when our loved ones lost may touch our hearts in this world once again… but beware, for it also be a time for entities both good and evil to walk the night amongst us.
YES…..its Samhain time again...
The summer is gone and winter draws near,
Embrace the night and let your magick be known,
Yes indeed, the veil is in fact thinning. You can feel it the air, like a stirring in the force. An anticipation that something’s coming, about to enter our world. Magick is crackling in the air all around us as the excitement builds through the October month.
But, have you wondered exactly WHAT this thinning veil is? Or even better yet, WHY does it thin and part at this time of the year more so than another?
To better understand what this veil is and why it thins, lets first touch upon the hyper dimensional basics of the spirit world and the veil that separates it from ours.
Let me first explain that what I am about to tell you is my perspective on these matters as taught and shown to me by my teacher, an adept Toltec shaman, over a period of 8 years. I have also spent many years in and out of the lab studying parapsychology and hyper dimensional physics and various forms of magickal theory. Although there is more and more scientific evidence surfacing every year that confirms what I am saying it is important to understand that even with my own hands on experience these are still just theories.
In past articles, I outlined the hyper dimensional creation of the cosmos and all its planes of existence including the transformation of the Creator or primal force and the split in polarity that resulted in the God and Goddess. In this article, I will try to keep things a little simpler by just referring to the physical plane that we dwell in and the astral plane the place where many spirits dwell.
The existence of separate yet inner penetrating worlds or planes is all a matter of harmonics. We all have problems when it comes to visualizing these planes because we are linear thinkers in a nonlinear universe so to compensate for this human short coming, I want you all to visualize our physical plane and the astral plane as two separate layers of a cake with a thin icing between the layers. The lower layer is the physical plane and the upper layer would be the astral plane. In between the two is another plane called the etheric plane.
It is sometimes called the plane of power because all energy that is manifested on the physical plane is transmitted from the etheric plane. These different planes are made of a force called orgone energy all vibrating at different rates. Each plane has its own distinct harmonic oscillation which keeps it from merging with all the other planes. It’s kind of like having a fan blade spinning at high speeds representing one plane and a small rubber ball representing the other plane. No matter how hard you try, you will not be able to pass the ball through the fan blades under normal conditions.
This middle plane, this separating layer of icing on our cosmic cake is what we refer to as the veil. Information and energy can pass through it from one plane to another but it usually takes the focused intent of a human or a spirit to make it happen. Think of this etheric middle plane as a body of water that is usually very turbulent making it difficult to see through let alone pass through. When we speak of the veil thinning it is not really getting thinner, it is calming its currents in that particular area so that we can see and pass through easier.
This being stated, WHY does the veil grow thin or less turbulent during Samhain? The reason is that this etheric plain of power, aka the veil between the worlds is subject to gravitational changes in the physical plane. When the earth and sun reach the angles and distances that they do during Samhain, it causes a calming effect on the etheric plane. As you might guess the etheric plane fluctuates during other times but never calms as much as it does during the latter part of October.
You can also have localized calming caused by the earths own magnetic and gravitational changes as well as electrical activity in the atmosphere. This fact opens up a whole set of possibilities when investigating paranormal activities. In addition to nature causing fluctuations in the veil, so can a person who has been trained to open portals or summon entities through various methods that many of you have probably practiced.
Of course, as pagans we really do not need to understand exactly how these forces work, we are usually just satisfied to know that they do work. Even with this scientific understanding of the magickal universe, I personally still prefer to embrace the forces and spirits of the season with raw emotion while experiencing the awe and wonder and let us not forget the excitement of this magickal time of year. So I invite you to partake in some form of ritual that will allow you to become part of this and other festivals of the year by getting out there and experiencing the true forces of nature.
Far too many of us have become armchair observers for one reason or another and it is time to take back the magick of our ancestors by becoming active once again within our own beliefs and rites. I for one will be out around the fires this Samhain night teaching those who wish to learn while embracing the forces and mysteries of this magickal time.
Many Blessings to all of you, Marcus
By Gwynalda Shadowalker
A Witch of a Different Color
Oops! Oh, dear. Here we go again. There’s a firestorm of controversy swirling around an upcoming Denver Pagan Pride Day event that shouldn’t even BE an issue for the greater Pagan Community, but evidently, it is...
This all started back in late August. A High Priest/Pagan Witch buddy of mine (oh, right, he’s that author fellow who publishes “Witch Way”) passed along an e-mail from a friend. There was a link to a British newspaper article that told how a bunch of folks in England (482 to be precise) had set a Guinness World Record for the most people dressed as witches assembled in one place.
Ken wondered if we (meaning Pagan Witches) could break that record here in Colorado.
An exciting and amusing discussion ensued on the Denver Metro Witches MeetUp Mailing List. The consensus was that dressing up in pointy hats and capes and carrying brooms to break the world record would be a FUN thing to do.
I wondered if the local Pagan Pride Coordinator would be interested in sponsoring such an event on Denver Pagan Pride Day. So, I pitched the idea to her—
How’s this for a headline?: Mile High City Breaks the Guinness World Record for the largest number of “Witches” assembled in the same place at Denver Pagan Pride 2012!
Here’s an idea for Pagan Pride that folks have been discussing over at the Denver Metro Witches’ MeetUp Mailing List:
Would you be interested in sponsoring something like this at Denver’s Pagan Pride event on October 20th at Civic Center Park?
All everyone would need to bring with them in order to break the record at Pagan Pride this year would be: 1) A Pointy Hat; 2) A Cape; & 3) A Broom.
Wouldn’t it be FUN to convene an assembly of 500+ properly costumed & equipped “Witches” to BREAK the world’s record?
What a fabulous opportunity this would be to:
We could also reach out, EDUCATE, and inform the public that Pagan Witches and Wiccans are NOT who they think we are. Since the Veil between the Worlds will be so thin at that time, we could combine the religious aspects of Samhain with the classic festivities of an American Halloween.
And of course, any Harry Potter fans & Pagan-friendly, costumed/broom-equipped Muggles would be more than welcomed & encouraged to participate...
As far as "officially" breaking the Guinness world record is concerned, I believe that Lara, the lead anchor from ModernPagan.tv, coordinated with Guinness for Beltania 2012.
Ah—Magick is afoot...
What say you, Sister?
And Melanie replied, “Yes, let’s!!!”
She took the torch and ran with it by registering with Guinness for an official record-breaking attempt at Denver Pagan Pride Day.
But then the Pagan naysayers and Wiccan detractors got wind of it, and started voicing their objections. It amazed me the lengths to which some folks are willing to go to prove their superiority. Although, I must say, some got really creative by inventing new reasons to take offense.
I just wish that they’d stop picking on Melanie. (October is Bullying Awareness month, after all.) She’s doing an amazing job spearheading and organizing Denver Pagan Pride. These festivals are designed to BUILD our Pagan Community and EDUCATE the general public about who we really are.
If folks don’t like the Guinness World Record-breaking attempt, then they DON’T have to participate. It’s as simple as that. As soon as the picture for Guinness is taken, I plan on taking off all that plain black and showing everyone what a real Pagan Witch looks like decked out in full splendor and regalia. You’re invited to do the same, or not. It’s up to you.
If you’re in Denver on the 20th, please drop by Civic Center Park and say, “Hi.”
Is anyone else’s October so crazy-busy that it’s hard to tell if you’re coming or going? This month needs to be a couple of weeks longer just to fit everything in and still have time for sleep. I wonder what next month has in store.
Uh-oh. I just checked the ephemeris for November. Hang on to your garters, folks. We’re in for a bumpy ride, astrologically speaking. And no, the sky isn’t falling— we’re just going to be experiencing a bit of celestial turbulence with Mercury retrograde and eclipses of the Sun and Moon.
Mercury goes retrograde from November 6th through the 26th; there’s a Solar eclipse with the New Moon on November 13th; and a Lunar eclipse occurs at the Full Moon on November 28th.
The planet Mercury is named for the wing-footed, Roman Messenger of the Gods. Hence, the astrological link between the planet and communication and travel. Mercury rules the Zodiac signs of Gemini and Virgo.
“Mercury retrograde (Merc Rx)” means that the planet will appear to be moving backward in its orbit for nearly three weeks next month. Communications and travel plans tend to go awry during these intervals. Astrologers warn their clients to avoid making major, life-altering decisions at these times. My favorite Astro author declares “Don’t sign! Don’t buy!” Why? Because all the information won’t be available until after Mercury goes direct.
Patience is truly a virtue in this regard. To prevent future suffering, it’s best to WAIT until after November 26th before signing legal documents or purchasing computers, appliances, electronics and vehicles.
When Mercury is retrograde, people talk at cross purposes more frequently. Misunderstandings can lead to arguments that degenerate into nasty verbal exchanges. The trick is to catch ourselves before we fly off the handle and say or write something that we’ll later regret.
Traveling can be a real hassle when Mercury’s walking backward. Expect delays and beware Road Rage. It’s a smart idea to allow more time for your daily commute. You might want to check out alternate routes to your destination and research public transportation options, just in case. Texting or talking on a cell phone while driving is an extremely bad idea with Merc Rx.
Mercury goes retrograde three or four times every year. What’s a bit different about next month’s cycle is that it will occur at the same time as the “Shadow of the Eclipse”— which will tend to exacerbate the Mercurial challenges.
The Shadow of the Eclipse refers to the interval of instability that occurs from 10 days before until three days following an eclipse. During this period, things get really stirred up— and people have a marked tendency to instinctively over-react.
Traditional astrologers tell us that it’s best to WAIT to make decisions or initiate action on important matters until three days after an eclipse. This is to insure that the outcome resulting from such decisions and actions will be well thought-out and enduring— rather than an ill-considered “flash in the pan” or “tempest in a tea-cup.”
The Shadow of the Solar Eclipse begins on November 3rd. and ends on the 16th. The Shadow of the Lunar Eclipse begins on November 18th and ends on December 1st. (Wah-hoo! We get a whole day to recover from the first one before the next one hits. But Mercury is still retrograde on the 17th. Oh, well.) Wow, the national elections on November 6th and Thanksgiving dinner on the 22nd should be interesting.
So when it comes to those major life decisions involving business and romance and contracts and investments and high-ticket purchases— plan now and do as much as you can before November 3rd. Then take a break and relax for the rest of month. Yes, this is easier said than done.
Spells can be quite effective under the Shadow of the Lunar Eclipse— so long as you WAIT until it’s over before making decisions or acting in the mundane realm. For example, say you want a car. And you do a Magickal Working to attract that car into your life on the eve of the Full Moon Lunar Eclipse, which would be November 27th. So long as you WAIT until three full days after the actual eclipse— in this case, December 1st— to go see the car, test drive it, and purchase it, you and your new car should be fine and dandy.
Since so much is being stirred up and brought to the surface during the Shadow of the Eclipse, it’s a great time for the more enlightened and self-aware (i.e., Witches) to do a bit of soul searching and purge the inner “gunk” that no longer serves them. My first Craft teachers called this the “Black Mirror” exercise; my Hypnotherapy instructor called it “Shadow-Self Work.”
And what a great way to kick off Celtic New Year!
So, this Astro-Witch will be doing as much as possible by Samhain, and then turning inward for Shadow-Workings in November. My esteemed Editor will be happy to know that next month’s article will be handed in on November 1st so as to avoid complications of Merc Rx. Sounds like a plan.
Have a wonderful Samhain, ya’ll! And Blessed Be— Gwynalda )O(
Trending Toward The Positive
By Evylyn Rose
As Witches, we take pride in being known as “the wise.” Why, then, is it that we are just as likely to find ourselves stuck in a whirlwind of negativity? No matter how well we remember to keep up with protection, physically and magickally, we inevitably find ourselves struck by a spiritual 2x4 of bad intentions. In some cases, witches are simply being bombarded by the fears, doubts, hatred, violence, etc. of the environments we live and work in.
In others, witches simply fall prey to their own egos as we have been conditioned to since birth in the societies we live. The unfortunate reality for many witches is that the negativity they are drowning in can be sourced back to the very place they believed was filled with perfect love and perfect trust.
As the Pagan and metaphysical communities continue to grow, so, too, does the potential for abuse in their groups. Covens, even “learning covens,” are no exception. Where one would expect only the best of intentions can be the breeding ground for greed, power, lust, and corruption. These negativity breeding groups can range anywhere from slightly controlling or manipulative and bring little to no harm, to a full blown cult that slowly brainwashes its members, causing animosity against other groups in and out of the witchcraft community.
If the potential for creating and sustaining a negative public image for Witches is not bad enough, we should be worried about those sucked into these groups (and the potential to get wrapped up in them ourselves). Step number one is learning to recognize them for what they are.
In 1979, Isaac Bonewits created the Advanced Bonewits’ Cult Danger Evaluation Frame (ABCDEF) to help Neo-Pagans discern between good (or at least trustworthy) groups and groups that are bad or potentially dangerous. This evaluation tool has expanded in use to identify negative and cult-like groups outside of just the Pagan community. It is based upon current psychological research and theories as well as years of experience and observations of minority faiths in and outside of the Pagan sphere.
As a minority, we witches often become excited at finding others of like mind, especially if we are new to the path or have been solitary for a long time and feel a need to socialize with other witches. It is good to seek out and follow our desires, but not if we are doing so blindly.
Whether or not you choose to use Bonewits ABCDEF to assist in determining if a group you are in or looking into is healthy, having knowledge and awareness of the key areas of the evaluation is essential. You do not have to memorize the categories. However, you will benefit greatly from keeping these points in mind.
The first key area is Internal Control. Some pertinent questions to ask are, how much of the members lives are dictated? Are they expected to dress, eat, pray, live, talk, etc. in a particular way? Do the leaders or elders of the group advise other members? Do they tell them what to do? For a group to function there should be some level of control. Think of it in terms of a business or academic team. If the members of the team do not add their share, cause tension among the other teammates, never show up, cause trouble while representing the group, etc. the team falls apart.
Internal control is what ensures that the goal or mission of the group is met, that harmony is maintained, and that the team remains wholesome. However, when that internal control takes unnecessary extremes, such as banning certain foods, dress, language, what is spoken of outside of the group, etc. with little to no explanation outside of that it is what makes the group what it is, red flags should be raised. Controlling the lives of others is not the same as healthy group maintenance.
External Control is different from internal control in that potential manipulation extends outside of the group. Here is where extremists usually come into play. The group focuses its efforts on controlling others who are not part of the group. On the healthy side, this may include groups who aim to see legislation or ways of life adopted for the betterment of humanity, animals, the planet, etc.
Campaigns to help others quit smoking, raise funds for the homeless, building awareness and encouraging the adaptation of more sustainable ways of living are all positive. That said, even these can turn to dangerous extremes. When such campaigns seek to force others into making changes or convince them to change their views through the manipulation of facts and scare tactics, the healthy level of outside influence turns quickly into potentially dangerous external control.
Another red flag to watch out for is Wisdom or Knowledge Claimed and Wisdom or Knowledge Credited. Groups that claim to have all the answers or that their knowledge has been passed down generations back all the way to ancient times should raise some concern. This is not to say that such claims are never true. Rather, when confronted with such claims, look into them well beyond the surface.
In some cases, it may be a matter of word choice and initial research more so than dishonesty. For example, Wicca was introduced to the public as an ancient religion predating all others. Research quickly found this theory to be grossly inaccurate. Still, some traditions of Wicca claim ancient origins. Although we know this is certainly not the case, understanding that Wicca draws on very ancient practices, beliefs, and concepts provides the perspective that such Wiccan groups hold.
Look out, also, for groups that credit others with titles. Are they deserving of such titles? What power or authority do they hold? In healthy groups, respect is given to all members regardless of title. Someone with a “Lord” or “High Priest” so-and-so title does not make them any better than anyone else. Those who have earned such titles are deserving of respect and their advice and guidance should be heeded. That said, they are not Gods above the rest of the members within a group and should never expect others to treat them as such.
Next month, we will look at more of the key areas to consider in determining the health and potential of a group. In the meantime, you can visit NeoPagan.net to learn a little more of Isaac Bonewits ABCDEF and how it can help you or your loved ones in ensuring the groups you join or associate with are not abusive and safe.
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Until next month, may you be blessed in all that you do, or as we usually say,
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