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[Witch Way] Volume #2 Issue #7 -- Dreaming Of A White Yule!
December 13, 2009
|Hi, Happy Yule!
Well, another month has passed. It seems just like yesterday I was sitting here writing this column for last monthís Witch Way. Last month I held a contest, and gave away prizes. I asked for the number of crew aboard the Enterprise in the original series. Several of you who wrote to me, commented on the fact that the correct answer was given farther down in the newsletter. Even so, I got several incorrect answers.
My hope is that those people simply sent off a guess before they read the entire email. Iíd like to think what I write is interesting enough that people want to read it.
The offer was a free copy of 7 Secrets Of A Successful Witch, to the first five people with the correct answer.
The winners were:
I thought it was interesting that hers wasnít the first sent, since if my calculations are correct, the newsletter gets emailed in late morning or early afternoon in her time zone. Still, you didnít have to be half a world away to win. Most of the answers came in several hours after the newsletter was mailed.
There was a sixth, Marcus gave the correct answer, unfortunately not in time to be one of the first five, but he also donated $20 to CyberWitchcraft, so I gave him a copy anyway. I figured he paid for it, if not directly, so why not just give it to him?
This month Iíve got something new and exciting to tell you about. Ok, I think itís exciting. Iíve brought back a feature from my days co-hosting the Internet radio show, Full Circle. For about a year, Hawk and I experimented with video as another way to broadcast. This was long before the days of YouTube, and we were limited by the technology, so the quality of the video was pretty bad by the time it got to the person watching.
Things have changed, and so Iíve brought back Common Thread in a new format. Instead of a video news magazine, each hour long video covers a single topic. Iíve already got the first two videos out and available for download.
The first video is Ritual 101, where I take you through each part of doing a ritual, and explain what Iím doing, and why Iím doing it. Iíve always thought being able to see how to do something is so much more understandable than reading about it.
The second video was released Friday, and in it I talk with my friend Aspen about the Tarot. Sheís a professional reader, and she explains some of the history of the cards, then goes into the meanings of each of the cards, and how they are read. She even does a reading for me on camera, explaining what the cards tell her, and how their position in the spread determines what each of the cards represents.
Iíve put the first 10 minutes of each video up on YouTube, and embedded the video on CyberWitchcraft so that anyone can see it. Because itís expensive to produce good quality video, I canít just give them away. In fact, I think I could sell them for twice the price, and people would buy, but this isnít just about making money. This is about getting quality, accurate information to those who want it.
So Iíve put the first 10 minutes of each video up for everyone to watch. I figure that if the video interests you, maybe youíll be willing to give me $10 to download and keep the entire hour.
Iíve also set up a mailing list to let anyone who is interested know when new videos are available. In the upper right corner of the page is a form for you to give me just your email address, so I can alert you when new videos are ready.
Just fill in your email address, and click the button. Iíll let you know every time Iíve got a new video ready to see. Youíll be able to watch the free 10 minute segment, or purchase the whole hour for just $10.
Go take a look at Common Thread now, and watch the videos. Donít forget to sign up for the email list while youíre there!
A Monthly Column For Astrological Insight
The mid-December to Mid-January period is going to be a fairly busy one astrologically. A conjunction from earlier this yearó Jupiter-Neptuneówill be back for an encore performance in late December. Also, both Mars and Mercury are going retrograde during this time.
Jupiter and Neptune will conjunct starting the 15th of December and remain so until the 28th. During this transit many people will believe everything is fine, even when it is not. However, it is also much easier than normal to focus on the needs of others, and doing so is less likely to cause a sense of martyrdom.
Interestingly, the more we focus on being selfless during this transit, the less likely we are to retreat into a false sense of security. The Christmas Spirit may have some practical applications this winter season.
Do not make any new financial or investment decisions during this time. Until this transit is over, staying the course (or doing nothing if no ďcourseĒ has been decided upon) is the best course of action.
This transit is also good for beginning any kind of philosophical or religious study, but not for drawing any conclusions. It is exceptionally easy to delude oneself during this transit.
Of the Planets going retrograde, Mars will begin its retrograde period first when it stations on December 19th and go fully retrograde early on the 21st. During its retrograde periodólasting until early Marchó it will move backwards through most of the Sign of Leo, starting at 19 degrees Leo and ending at 0 degrees Leo.
Mars goes retrograde the least often of the Planets that retrograde, and so Marsí retrograde is often the one people are least prepared for. Mars represents action; when Mars goes retrograde, reactionó the consequence of past actionsó comes to the fore in many peopleís lives. During Marsí retrograde long-running projects will often prove themselves as either successes or failures. The combined effort of past actions will yield a telling result.
Another way Mars retrograde can manifest is increased self-awareness. Long-term habits we have may produce particularly goodó or particularly nastyó consequences during this transit.
However, starting something new during this time will probably be quite difficult. The consequences of past actions, positive and negative, have to play themselves out before we have the space to try something new. A Mars retrograde is best used as a time to re-evaluate what we are doing with ourselves.
Since Mars is retrograding through Leo, the results of our creative endeavors and efforts to gain the attention of others will be particularly apparent during this transit. Those of us who are artists may get a clear sense if the art we are creating is reaching its audience during this retrograde, and those in business and marketing will get a better idea as to whether or not their advertising strategies are paying off.
Parents may get some strong feedback on how they are raising their children during this transit. More generally, the two and a half months the retrograde lasts may be a time when each of us looks at how we try to get the world to pay attention to us, and ask questions like ďAm I actually getting peopleís attention by doing this?Ē and ďIs this the kind of attention I want?Ē.
On a lighter note, Christmas- and New Year- related events should be quite memorable this year as a result of the Mars retrograde through Leo. Christmas celebrations will be wonderfully heartfelt, Yule and Solstice celebrations perhaps even more so.
New Yearís parties, on the other hand, will probably be quite wild. It looks like inhibitions will be a lot lower for most people right around New Yearís Eve and Day, so when going out to party, plan on leaving the kids and grandparents at home, donít let anyone take pictures and drive carefully afterward.
Now, on to Mercuryís retrograde. Mercury will station on the 25th and 26th, and go retrograde beginning the 27th of December. Mercury will station again on January 14th and go direct on the 16th. While it is retrograde, Mercury will travel from 21 degrees Capricorn back to 5 degrees Capricorn.
This Christmas season it may be a good idea to be back home by the evening of the 26th. During this Mercury retrograde many of us may find we canít get as much done individually as we usually do. We may find our usual form of personal transportation or communication is unavailable because it is broken or in use by someone else.
We will have to ask for help more often and cooperate more closely with those around us during this time in order to fulfill our responsibilities. This cooperation will build a foundation of community that we will probably need later.
The Winter Solstice will occur on December 21st at 11 AM, and most of the transits discussed will be in effect on that day (all transits will be in effect on Christmas, and most will be in effect on New Yearís Eve and Day).
The period from Winter Solstice through New Yearís Day will be a wonderful time to spend with loved ones, to be grateful for what we have, and to begin to dream of how we can make the most of the upcoming Spring. Despite many of us feeling the pinch financially, this holiday season will almost certainly be one most of us remember fondly.
May it be healthy and productive for you as well.
NOTE: This is not a typical ďhoroscopeĒ reading, breaking astrological influences down by Sign for a given period of time. The information in this column should apply to most people, most of the time. If you have any questions, or want specific personalized information on how whatís going on in the heavens affects you, contact Jim Trader.
Time Of The Season
Itís that time again. Everyone is busier now, than they are the rest of the year, including the Summer. Itís the ďHolidayĒ Season. I always find it amazing how so much trouble can be generated by a time when everyone is thinking of good will toward men.
First there are the malls. Iíll admit something here, I havenít been to a mall during Christmas season in probably 10 years.
Itís not the crowds, or the chaos of the people, itís finding a parking place that gets me. Any normal day, you could pull right into a parking spot and walk maybe 100 yards to the front door. Not during this time of year. No, youíre lucky to get the last spot in the entire 1000 acres of parking lot, and itís in the farthest corner from the door.
Youíll notice in the last paragraph, that I called it Christmas Season, not Yule. Iíve found over the years that what you call it is less important than how you see it. Since everyone else calls it Christmas, why canít I? I know Jewish people who celebrate Hannakah but use the term Christmas. Itís a tidal wave that you just canít fight.
Thatís ok. I wish Pagan friends Happy Yule, and we all understand the deeper meaning behind it. Itís that deeper meaning, thatís really important. What is that deeper meaning? While everyone else is looking at the calendar and thinking this is the first day of Winter, we know that itís actually the middle of Winter.
We know this not by checking the date, but by looking at the world around us. Most of us in the US went through one of the biggest storms in history over the last week. Winter storm advisories of one type or another covered 895,000 square miles of the country at the same time.
Add to that, weather advisories farther south that were related to the same storm, and there were well over 1 million square miles of the country being affected at the same time.
If that isnít something that evokes the dead of Winter, I donít know what is.
As Witches, Heathens, and Pagans of all kinds, we look at Yule and see the promise that weíre half way through the rough Winter. Yule is the turning point, itís the longest night and the nights will only get shorter from this point forward.
Within a couple of months, you can start to feel the days get a little warmer. By Imbolc, if you pay attention, it will be undeniable. Yule is the deadest part of Winter from which Spring is born. Itís this promise of new life that caused our ancestors to celebrate it in every culture.
Yes, January is usually the coldest month of the year, but that is Winter fighting a losing battle, trying to hold on beyond its time. Weíve made it half way through the long cold night, and we can see the dawn pinking the sky in the East, if we look hard enough.
If youíre in Australia, or anywhere else in the Southern Hemisphere, itís just the opposite. The days will now get shorter and colder. Winter moves to His Summer home in the South. The fact that the seasons are opposite makes no difference to how well you can feel them. You can still feel the subtle changes around you.
We celebrate the Wheel of The Year in order to acknowledge these changes we see and feel. Even in our urban jungles, the seasonal changes are felt because they are etched in our DNA.
We can never invent our way out from the effects these changes bring to us. So itís time to stop looking at calendars to see what season it is, just take a few moments to look and feel.
Thatís the only calendar you really need.
We are a fractured community. The Neo-pagan community is broken.
What do I mean by that? Simple, we work as individuals, instead of as a group. A friend of mine did some research for a project, and found that the number of people identifying themselves as Pagan, according to the US Census, just in the Denver area, is estimated at 25,000.
Twenty five thousand people in this one metro area, call themselves Pagan in one form or another. In an area of about 2.4 million people, that is a large factor. That is in fact, a voting bloc if we all ever decided to come together for a cause.
The problem is, we probably never will.
You may think Denver is a special case, but really itís not. Paganism in general, Wicca in specific, is one of the fastest growing spiritual Paths in the world. I suspect that no matter where you are, there are a lot more Pagans around than you know.
Unfortunately, instead of coming together and working as a group, we are all working on individual goals. Part of the problem is that information can be hard to find. A person looking for a teacher of the Craft has no real resources to find one. They are left to asking people they know, or maybe looking online for information that no one really publishes.
If a person new to the Pagan community asks around about who they find for a teacher, the most likely response they'll get is, "I don't know".
Wouldnít it be better if those who were teaching came out to their local community and said they were willing to take on students? But that doesnít happen. If you are lucky enough to find a teacher, itís usually through knowing someone who knows someone, or sheer dumb luck.
Even if teachers were to come forward, how would you know if they were good teachers or not? Thereís no certification process to ensure that someone canít just claim to be a teacher, just as thereís no structure for determining if a person claiming to be a Priest or Priestess, really is.
Structure is the problem. The Pagan community has none. In fact, itís been my observation that the Pagan community doesnít want any structure. For some reason, structure of any kind, has been deemed ďbadĒ.
Part of it may be that when books started becoming popular as a means of learning Witchcraft, some within Covens scoffed at anyone who learned strictly from books. They said you canít be a real Witch, unless you learned from a teacher, or better yet, a Coven.
Unfortunately, those same people werenít really willing to take on students. So Solitaire Practicaners were the result, and they were left to their own devices to learn what they could from books. After a little time, these book-taught Witches decided that they didnít need any sort of Coven, or they started their own.
Unfortunately, without any training in how a Coven functions and is run, the definition of what a Coven is became quite blurred. For that matter, the definition of what a Witch is, became just as blurred.
Everyone came up with their own ideas about what they should be doing. Books didnít help since after the initial wave of books on Wicca, authors started putting out books on every type of Witchcraft they could think of.
The person who was new to The Craft now had literally hundreds of books to choose from, but each one gave a different way to do the same things. If you buy three different books (sometimes by the same author) you are told three different ways to cast Circle, or Call Quarters, or consecrate tools.
This diversity is good, it gives people more choices of ways to do things that they can be comfortable with, but there are problems.
The new person tends to be confused about which is the ďrightĒ way to do a ritual, since no two books seem to have the same information. Another problem is that new students usually wonít use just a single book for their learning, so they start mashing different ideas together in the mistaken idea that anything will work.
This leads to sloppy Witches doing sloppy work. This isn't the fault of the book taught Witch, they simply don't know any better, and there isn't anyone around to help them understand why some things work, and others don't.
Thatís not good for the individual Witches, or the Pagan community. Iíve heard book store owners talk about people buying a book one week, and bringing their ďCovenĒ in the next, to get supplies.
Some who claim to be High Priests or High Priestesses, would come in and ask the shop owners the most basic of questions, because that wasnít covered in the book, or they simply didn't understand the way the book explained it...and there's always the "which way is the right way?" issue of having read several books that give conflicting information.
Thereís also the issue of someone coming into a local community, claiming to be a teacher, or Coven leader, and using that title as just an easy way to get sex, or slave labor. If confronted about it, they simply state that itís ďtheir wayĒ of doing Witchcraft. The rest of the community, or at least those who know about it, usually accept that answer, even if they think it's wrong, and do little or nothing about it.
We need to come together as a community, if for no other reason than to protect ourselves, and those new to the community, who don't know yet what is, and isn't acceptable. There should be no reason why someone coming into the Pagan Path should not be able to find a quality teacher, if that is what they wish.
Instead they are told, ďWhen the student is ready, the teacher will appearĒ. Thatís just a cop out. Ok, so you donít want to, or arenít capable of teaching this person, thatís no reason not to help them with at least some information.
I think that a lot of the trouble is that most of us came from a Spiritual Path that had too many rules. So instead of creating a few rules to organize things a little, we decided that we just donít need any rules. Since that is what a lot of current Witches ďgrew upĒ with, they react negatively to any form of organization.
We are no longer a small group of individuals, following a Path that has called to us. We are now a large community of people who need to act in the best interests of the group.
Iím not suggesting that we elect some sort of Pope. I am suggesting that as a community, we should start looking at what qualifications a person should have, in order to be called a Priest or Priestess, or Teacher.
I also think that since we refer to ourselves as a community, we need to start acting like a community.
I have a friend Magni, who is a Norse Heathen Gothi (Priest). He heard someone talking about things he really didnít understand, as far as basic Norse Lore, so Magni asked the person who his Gothi was. Understand that this person was speaking as though he was a Heathen, and part of a Norse Kindred.
This person gave Magni the name of the man who he said had taught him. So a week or two later, Magni showed up at a local gathering spot for Pagans, on a night he was told this teacher would be there, and started asking him questions.
As it turns out, this ďteacherĒ neither wanted to teach, nor was he trying to. He simply related some tales that he had been taught as a child, and had been misunderstood by the person who claimed to be his student.
Now, having traced the trail back to its source, Magni was able to set the original issue straight by having the other "Gothi" explain to the person Magni had originally been talking to, that he had misunderstood what he'd been told.
Now instead of having a person without proper knowledge or understanding speaking out on things heíd misunderstood, and misinforming even more people, he may have a chance to learn from someone who can properly teach him.
If this had happened in a group of Witches, it would have been put down to ďitís just his wayĒ and misinformation would still be going out.
Why is this a problem?
If we are ever to be able to come out of the shadows without fear of prejudice, we must make sure that all information going out to the general public, by any means, is accurate. It only takes one person claiming to be a Witch, telling tales of sacrifice and murder, to the wrong person, and could end up on national news.
Yes, it does happen. I am corresponding with a Christian minister who just brought that very story up and asked about it. Also remember that with the news, if it bleeds, it leads. The more fantastic and sensational, the better.
Ask Tiger Woods, if you don't believe me.
We must police ourselves. No one else can, and we really wouldn't want them to. Yet no one feels like they have the right to ask anyone else questions about their spirituality. It isnít politically correct.
How often do you hear about a Christian or Jew who is spouting nonsense as to what their beliefs are? Not often, and when you do, thereís usually someone easily recognizable as an authority that can be found to tell you how things really are.
At this point, it's more likely to be a radical Muslim, you hear. So the news finds an Imam to ask questions about Islam.
In the Christian world, that person is a Minister, or Cardinal. In the Jewish world that person is a Rabi. In the Pagan world, we don't have any real criteria for what constitutes a Priest or Priestess.
The choice is yours. You can continue to not have any structure, so that when a person claims Witches do animal or human sacrifice, thereís no one to say any different, or you can help to create a little structure, so that the community has some resources.
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,
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