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[Witch Way] Volume #6 Issue #7 -- The Yuletide Season
December 13, 2013
|Hi, Happy Yule!
“Christmas has become far too commercial! People need to remember the original reason for the holiday! It’s not about getting presents!”
I always have to laugh when I hear someone say something like that. I know that they are Christian, and that they are trying to force their values on everyone around them. After all, they really don’t want people to think of the original reason for the holiday, they want them to think of the Christian reason for the holiday.
Most all of us were brought up with the belief that Christmas (the Mass of Christ) was all about a baby that was supposed to have been born 2013 years ago in the middle-eastern town of Bethlehem. We all know the story of the young woman and her male friend, who were turned away from all the inns, and ended up in a stable. We all know the story of the star that brightened by orders of magnitude, and the three men who happened to show up bearing gifts of frankincense and myrrh.
I always wondered what they expected a baby to do with incense.
If you’ve done any research at all, you know that based on the Biblical descriptions, Christ wasn’t born at the Winter Solstice. He was born in the early Spring, when the sheep were lambing in the fields. Christmas as most Christians know it, is a complete fabrication, based on the whim of a long dead Pope. On the other hand, it is tradition, and there is a great deal to be said for Tradition.
There are those I’ve known, who got extremely offended if someone wished them a Merry Christmas. They claimed to be Witches, not Christians, so how dare those people not recognize that fact! This is why we can’t say “Merry Christmas”, or have Christmas parties at work anymore. The Politically Correct have forced their will upon everyone, and now you must say “Happy Holidays”, and attend Seasonal Parties.
Personally, the only time it ever bothered me to have someone wish me a Merry Christmas, was when I was very new to this, and followed the example that everyone else was setting. Everyone else was upset about it, so I should also, right? I was too new to have formed my own thoughts or opinions. I wasn’t really upset, but it seemed that I should be, so I acted like I was.
With experience and mistakes, comes wisdom. It really wasn’t very long before I realized that it doesn’t matter what they wished me, I could wish them a Happy Yule, and it was all good. No one really cared. As Witches, we’re taught that words have power, which is most certainly true. Anyone who has ever been in a relationship can describe saying something completely innocent to their partner, and having the partner misunderstand the meaning, because of the words. But really, the power words by themselves have, is miniscule compared to the power those same words have with intent and will behind them.
Say a word with the intent to hurt, and you will understand exactly what I mean. Words with intent behind them, can flay a person to the bone, or they can make that person feel invincible. So the question becomes, what is the intent behind the words, “Merry Christmas”? Certainly there is no malice or harm there. If they know a person is Jewish, they are just as likely to wish them a Happy Hanukah.
They use Christmas as a generic greeting of the season, the same way all facial tissue is a Kleenex, and all paper copies are Xeroxed. There are other brands of tissue and copiers, but those two are used by the vast majority. In our society, the vast majority is Christian, so people wish you a Merry Christmas. It’s as simple as that. Yet the over sensitive among us, find that to be completely offensive. Some are simply trying to make trouble. You’ll notice that it’s generally someone who self identified as an Atheist, who sues the county courthouse to remove the 10 Commandments from above the door. I’d actually be interested in seeing how many of these people had just had big court cases go against them just prior to their choice to file the lawsuit.
If you are an over sensitive type, you may want to rethink your choice to become Pagan. As a Pagan, you are going to find a lot to be offended about. There is the treatment of the land, the air, and the water to be offended about. There is the treatment of Native populations to be offended about. As Evy points out in her column this month, there are all sorts of causes you can join, if you want to. Personally, I would suggest you grow a thinker skin. Life is so much easier if you just realize that people are driven by laziness and ambition. They will always find the easiest way to get ahead. Realize this as the human condition, and don’t waste your time and energy being offended at everything.
Yet, to want everyone else to act like you, and believe like you, is also part of the human condition. We are herd animals. We want to belong. If we can’t belong to a group, we will make another group, and get others to join it. This is who we are as a species.
So, at this season, when the Gregorian calendar recycles, and the nights are at their longest, when someone wishes you a Merry Christmas, think about the original meaning of this holiday. Remember that it is a magickal act that causes the Sun to be reborn anew, and that the warmth of Spring is not that far off. You have made it to the middle of Winter, and the days get warmer from here.
You have survived another Winter, and that is worth celebrating, so wish that person a Happy Yule, and put intent behind your words. Even if they don’t understand the intent, they will notice it.
Plants, Petals, & Potions
by Julie Andaverde
This is a beautiful time of year, with the sparkle of the snow as the sun lightly kisses its surface, we are driven inside to seek the warmth of our dwellings. Let’s delve into an herb that is absolutely perfect for this time of year and reminds us of the warmth as the winter solstice approaches and we welcome the return of the light!
Magical Uses:love, money, passion, success
History and Folklore:The use of ginger is believed to have originated in India or in China. Hindu epics mention it in the 4th century BC and, even today it is an important plant in Ayurvedic medicine. Similarly, in China, ginger is mentioned in the earliest herbal and medicinal texts from about 2000 BC. Around 2000 years ago ginger became an important export from India to the Roman Empire where it was valued for its medicinal properties rather than its dual use as a spice. The trade of ginger and other spices into Europe was controlled by Arab merchants for hundreds of years– ginger was one of the most commonly traded spices during the Middle Ages. In England, one pound of ginger was about equal to the cost of a sheep.
Ginger is energetic, warm and adds power to any magical activity. Ginger is a male herb that corresponds with Mars or the Sun and the elements Earth or Fire (depending on whose sources you look at).
Eating ginger before performing spells will lend them power, since you have been 'heated up' by the ginger. It is especially true of love spells, in which ginger is much used. It can be used, aromatherapy style to “ground” a person, while stimulating the mind. In spell casting, ginger can be used to induce passion, for romantic love and for wealth/money spells. It is used also to "speed things up" or to cause plans to come to fruition quickly. Whole ginger roots are planted and grown to attract money, or the powdered root is sprinkled into pockets or onto money for this purpose. Ginger is also used in success spells or to ensure the success of a magical operation. In the Pacific the Dobu islanders make much use of ginger in their magic. They chew it and spit it at the 'seat' of an illness to cure it, and also spit chewed ginger at an oncoming storm, while at sea, to halt it.
When using ginger for culinary purposes, fresh and dried ginger are not generally interchangeable. Consider keeping some of your ginger in the freezer…it grates far more easily and can be used in recipes that call for freshly grated ginger.
Medicinal uses:Ginger is said to have analgesic, antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, bactericidal, emetic, expectorant, laxative, and stimulant properties. Internally, ginger is used for motion sickness, nausea, morning sickness, indigestion, colic, and other digestive/abdominal complaints as well as with colds, coughs, influenza and peripheral circulatory problems. Some studies have shown that ginger can help with lowering cholesterol, and stimulating the immune system. It is also said to help with ulcers, and aiding both the movement of food thru the digestive tract and the secretion of bile and gastric juices.
In Chinese medicine, it is also used to help with mucus production and nasal discharge (colds/sinus problems), blood in the urine, and chronic bronchitis. Ginger can also be used externally for arthritis, cramps and muscle pains, menstrual cramps and sprains. Furthermore ginger has circulation boosting properties, helps the entire body, and its analgesic affect aids with rheumatic and arthritic pain. Ginger externally, also reduces bruises, sores and boils.
As winter comes upon us, we all are thinking of ways to get and stay warm. Ginger is a fantastic herb to use in this fashion, as it is warming to the whole body, and its effects are felt immediately upon drinking a hot cup of infused ginger tea. Ginger is very effective in increasing circulation. Because of this action, I have found it to be helpful for visitors who are having trouble adjusting to high altitudes. Altitude headaches can sometimes be relieved, quite quickly, by taking 1/2 to 1 dropperful of the tincture. However, I have always preferred the tea. A hot cup of ginger tea, with its pungent smell and steam, seems a wonderful welcome for someone not used to this place (I live a mile above sea level). The tea also has the added benefit of the water content, as increased intake of water is always the first thing to do when experiencing altitude sickness.
Effects:It has been claimed large doses of ginger can cause CNS depression and/or arrhythmia. Other contraindications include possible bleeding abnormalities. Ginger should ONLY be used with caution UNDER THE GUIDANCE OF A PHYSICIAN in patients with the following conditions: taking anticoagulant therapies, with heart conditions (due to carditonic effects), in persons with gallstones, persons with diabetes and/or hypo/hyperglycemia and in people with increased or decreased blood pressure. As Jack Frost begins to nip at your nose and winter comes upon us, head indoors for a cup of ginger tea to warm you up!
Love, light, and blessings!
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
I would like to share with you one of my very first magickal experiences with an entity from the other side. I will present it to you complete with the horrors, excitement, idiotic blunders, and comical events that combined gave me my first real lesson about things that go bump in the night.
It was in the early 70’s and I had just graduated from high school when I decided to take a year off before going to college to explore the world in hopes of finding an adventure. I got an opportunity to go help manage a large antique and gun store in one of the most energetic magical towns in the world, Las Vegas, Nevada. Man there wasn’t a force on earth that could have contained me so I was off to have an adventure which turned out to be many.
The store was awesome, set up with part of the set from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It was huge and all the walls were made of synthetic adobe brick which really created an atmosphere of times long ago. We even had a very life like full sized manikin of a Native American which I often posed in different chairs and placed different objects in his hands. One time, I got in trouble for doing this. I left him by the front door with a shot gun in his lap and about 2 o’clock in the morning I got a call from Las Vegas PD wanting to know if the gun the dummy was holding was loaded and I said sure it is, it has a dummy round in it...no sense of humor had they that night. Anyway, Cochise had a ceramic head and long braided black hair that was so real looking that many times I would catch customers saying hello to it and then getting embarrassed when the realized what it was. I named him Cochise because that was who he looked like. Please understand too that I meant no disrespect to Native Americans for having this item, I am Native American myself and I never treated him with disrespect.
The owner had just purchased a collection or rather stock pile of 4000 old military firearms dating from the 1800s all the way up to the Vietnam war. It was my job to clean all of them and make sure they all worked and were safe to fire, which at the time I thought was so totally cool, but in retrospect I realized that I was the equivalent to a test fire dummy. I always wondered why my boss would side step out of the room as I was about to fire a 100 year old rifle...what can I say, I was 18 and stupid!
I was just as fascinated with the many antiques that filled our store. I think it was because for as long as I can remember I have been psychometric... PLEASE note, I said psychometric, NOT psychotic. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the term it means that I can sense things about where an object has been or about the person that handled it just by touching it, so to work in an antique store was quite an experience with a thousand stories calling out to you at your fingertips.
This was not always a good thing. There were some things in the store that made me sad and some things that made me feel rage when I held them. One such item was an old roman sword that I fell in love with, but found that whenever I held it I became angry so I had to sell it back to the store.
Things were for the most part great and I loved it. But a series of events started taking place that would soon change all that. It all started when we received a very large old bar and back bar from the 1880s complete with mirrors, spur scared stools, bullet holes and what I still think was a blood stained bar top. It came from an old closed down saloon in Montana that was rumored to be rather rowdy in its day.
About two weeks later my brother, who also was there for a while, was talking to me as I had my back turned to the bar which sat in the far corner of the store right in front of the doors that led back to the bathroom. He was in the middle of speaking and suddenly stopped and turned white as his jaw dropped open. He couldn’t speak at first and I said what’s wrong turning behind me to look and seeing nothing. He said a ghost just appeared at the bar dressed in old clothes and a cowboy hat and boots. He said it stood up turned to the left and walked right through the closed door that led to the bathroom area.
Thinking that he was kidding and trying to pull a fast one I said hmmmm I guess even for a ghost when ya gotta go YA GOTTA GO! He didn’t laugh and it was then that I realized that he really saw something.
After a moment ...ok ok, after SEVERAL moments we quietly made our way over to the closed door that led into what we called the ammunition room because we had a million rounds of ammo stored there. At the far end of the room was the door that led into the bathroom. I grabbed the door knob and turned and pushed and the door did a classic haunted house creak that sent chills up both our backs.
I stepped through the door first and noticed the incredible heat in the room . Our store had evaporating water coolers that worked up to about 90 degrees and after that they only seemed to make it humid as well as hot. It was 110 degrees outside so the room was hot and muggy. I found the courage to walk up to the door and reached for the door knob. When I grabbed it I gasped and jumped backwards... It was ICE cold like it had been in a freezer. I tried to get my brother to take my place but he reminded me that it was I who was the fire test dummy so I grabbed it gently....... turned it..... and slowly pushed it open a few inches.
It was totally dark on the inside and I could feel the cold cold air flowing out. I was debating on going in further when an incredibly powerful force slammed the door shut nearly breaking my wrist! I was so startled that I jumped into the air and spun 180 degrees around in midair with my feet going before I hit the ground! My brother was in a frozen state of shock as I knocked him down and ran over him trying to get out. He still kids me about leaving tennis shoe tracks across his face.
For the next 2 weeks it was my fate to NOT be able to use the bathroom facilities out of fear. Although I did send a couple of customers back there from time to time and waited to hear their screams to see if perhaps IT was gone. Although there were no screams I still could not talk myself into going back there ...I could sense IT was waiting. So, for the time being every time I had to relieve myself I would lock up the store and venture next door to the showboat hotel and casino.
Finally, I had enough and decided to do something about it. I was already familiar with cleansing and banishing from reading some of the only books around in those days by Sybil Leek and another book called Helping Yourself with White Witchcraft by Al Manning. So I figured how hard could it be? I gathered a few herbs, candles, a bell, some salt, and I was set. Man I was ready to kick some ectoplasmic butt. Or so I thought.
I had remembered reading somewhere that a banishing should be performed during the dark cycle of the moon and with the new moon being only 3 days away I had to get busy perfecting my banishing ritual. I was excited about my first real magickal ritual but I did have my moments of trepidation too. As I look back on myself now I have to laugh and wonder how I survived it all ....because I didn’t have a clue what I was doing...I even wore a clove of garlic around my neck when I was at work! I still don’t know if worked on the ghost, but it was awesome at driving away customers.
Well, the big night finally arrived and I was overflowing with nervous energy trembling in parts of my body I didn’t know could tremble! My brother was back in California by this time and I could not get anyone to go with me for back up, they all just kind of looked at me and said your going to do WHAT? So like the song...I‘ll go it alone if that’s how it must be....and I did.
The first thing I noticed when I pulled up in front of the store was the darkness. All the lights were out and I know I left at least 3 lights on. You never leave a gun store in total darkness, but that is what I was staring into as I inserted the key in the front door. I could feel IT.... I was convinced that IT had turned out the lights and was waiting for me.
Unfortunately, we had to turn on the lights at the main breaker box which was at the back of the store some 50 feet away through a maze of antique furniture that cast an eerie set of shadows from the street lights to further torment me. I turned on my flashlight and started weaving my way through looking over my shoulder more than anywhere else. I was almost to the back of the store when I looked up in the mirror of that cursed back bar and saw in the dim light the reflection of a man standing behind me!
Now, I had taken a few lessons in martial arts when I was in high school but never had the chance to use it ...until now. I would like to call it deadly instinct that spurred me into action, but I think it was more like a panic attack when I spun around and hit the man with the palm of my hand just under his nose feeling a crunch as I did and then spinning around and kicking him in the stomach sending him flying across the store much further than I thought possible. I froze for a moment staring into the darkness where he had sailed before I picked up the flash light and turned it toward my fallen assailant. I was horror stricken when I saw that I had just killed Cochise our store mascot. His face was in hundreds of pieces but his boots were standing perfectly upright a few feet in front of me from where I had sent him flying. I was not off to a good start at all and was about to call it quits when the light went on in the ammunition room.
I figured, ok this is it...this is what I came here for and by the Gods so shall it be. Don’t let me fool you; I was shaking like a scolded puppy dog. But from somewhere I found the courage to continue. I entered the room and took two ammo cases of 11mm manlicher a 100 year old rifle cartridge and made a make shift altar, placing my candles and other items on top of it. This is yet another example of my youthful foolishness. 100 year old ammo was not only unstable it was made with black powder a very touchy explosive and here I was lighting candles on top of it!
Everything was set. I had the herbs burning, the candles glowing, and the salt ready to um... I guess throw. I can’t remember what I had the salt for in those days. The one thing I didn’t do was to cast a circle. I didn’t know much about that and figured I didn’t need it so I omitted it! Told you I was foolish.
I started by calling the entity to show itself .....Nothing happened…. I tried again and this time took a broom handle and banged on the bathroom door 3 times …still nothing ... nervousness was being overtaken by anxiety as I said ok and jumped up stepping in front of the alter and in a single bold move throwing open the bathroom door and turning to run back to my alter.
I never made it back to the altar..... I took one step and suddenly I felt kind of like when your arm or leg goes to sleep but I felt it in my head. It was buzzing and my vision kept going blurry. I felt like I had stuck a finger in a light socket and it was spreading over my entire body. I was losing control of my body and about to pass out.
I stumbled forward and knocked my candles to the ground, falling over the ammo cases. I managed to get to my feet and was trying to run, but it was like my body was not listening to my commands and the last thing I remember was falling through the door that led into the main part of the store. I woke up there, I guess a few minutes later and I was dazed but I was in control again, so I jumped up and ran as fast as I could out the shop to my VW van and started it up and took off. I didn’t even lock the store up and at the time, I didn’t care!
It would be many years before I would understand what saved me that night. I was sure it would have done me great harm if it wasn’t for the copper water line that followed up and over and then back down the brick mold of the door I fell through. It fed the evaporative cooler outside the building and it was running at the time.
It seems that running water generates some kind of Etheric pass me not field around it and keeps certain types of entities from crossing it, as it seems to deplete their energy. This has since been proven many times to be true and is a good thing to keep in mind in the event of a psychic attack. In an emergency you can even take a running garden hose and make a large coil of it on the ground and step into the center of it creating a temporary safe haven. The attack should stop instantly, providing you didn’t let the entity into the circle.
Getting back to the story... for the weeks that followed I would not stay in the store alone and then one day a couple came in and asked how much for the bar and back bar. We had it marked at about 10 thousand dollars and I told them if they take it today they can have it for 7500. They took it! It took me a few more weeks to realize it but the entity was gone too. The people that bought it came back a few months later and said they loved it and did not seem to have any problems.
After I finally got the nerve to start using the bathroom again everything seemed fine until the third day. There I was taking care of business and suddenly the light went out! I was in total darkness and I flew up with my pants around my ankles and ran into the next room only to find that the power had gone out on the whole block from an accident.
My point with this story is pretty straight forward. DON’T mess with forces beyond your ability! If you’re in doubt seek help. Know what you’re doing and act on it as though your life depended on it, because you never know when it just might!
By Gwynalda Shadowalker
On Finding Your Spiritual Path
When I first became a “Spiritual Seeker in Earnest” long ago in NYC, I happened upon a Magickal Lodge, which had several active local chapters around the country. They regularly published slick, professional advertisements in many of the popular “Occult/New Age” magazines. So, I attended one of their introductory orientation meetings in Manhattan.
The sweet scent of (what I later learned was) Frankincense permeated their temple room. Several young Neophytes in their bright, white robes seemed quite happy and eager to welcome the half-dozen or so new prospective members. The three older Adepts (two men, and one woman), had rather elaborate robes and regalia about their persons. They put me in mind of what the early 20th-Century Ceremonial Magicians in England might have looked like. The woman, especially, had a down-to-Earth practicality and humor that greatly appealed to me.
Once they completed the formal introductions and the orientation lecture, two of the older Adepts—the woman and the younger man—departed. That left the lodge’s prospective and current Neophytes sitting around in a circle, drinking coffee or juice, and munching on cookies—in the care of the group’s Hierophant.
The Lodge’s leader regaled us with anecdotes about what they did and how they operated. Some of his stories were quite entertaining. He glanced around the circle at all our young, bright, shiny new faces, saying that he could tell how spiritually advanced someone was due to the “fineness or coarseness” of their hair. That raised my eyebrows, a bit. Since my locks were baby-fine and poker-straight, I wondered if that meant that I was some sort of “highly-advanced un-awakened master” according to his criterion...
And then the leader happened to respond to someone’s query, and consequently set my spider sense a-tingling. The gist was that their group didn’t encourage gay people to join, because, in the past, such members had become extremely ill as a result of channeling the magickal powers that the Lodge regularly brought through. Wait, what? Now, mind you, this was in the relatively early days of the HIV/AIDs epidemic, before the common availability of fast, accurate diagnostic testing and anti-viral medications. But still, it sounded far more like homophobia than any sort of “spiritual/mystical” philosophy to me.
For days afterward, I went back-and-forth trying to decide whether or not to attend the Lodge’s next meeting. What they allegedly offered in their publically-available literature (“Experience the Ancient, Secret Mysteries!”) greatly appealed to me. And the younger, newer members of the group seemed quite friendly, attractive, and sincere. BUT… There was that niggling feeling that something wasn’t quite “right” about the group as a whole. Finally, I made the decision to NOT travel further down that particular Path.
Seek and Ye Shall Find It WithinPsychologists say that our 20s is a period of “seeking and experimentation,” and it certainly was so for me. It’s a good thing that for about a decade, I lived in New York City, most of it right in Manhattan. Had I lived in another city (with the possible exception of San Francisco), I do not know whether or not I would have found my spiritual Path as quickly and easily as I did. The Isle of New Atlantis offers a vast array of Occult and New Age goodies, ranging from the banal to the sublime.
Transcendental and Mindfulness Meditation, Silva Mind Method, Creative Visualization, Tarot, Astrology, Cognitive and Transpersonal and Transactional Analysis, Core Shamanism, 12-Step Programs, The Fourth Way, Method Acting, Past Life Regression…. the list goes on and on and on. If something was an alternatively spiritual-mystical-magickal-“woo-woo-ish” mind-expanding and/or psychologically healing activity, then it’s more than likely that I sought it out to experience it for myself after reading about it in a book or magazine. (Please note: This was just prior to the Era of the Internet.)
Like a whole lot of folks these days, I first became interested in Wicca and Witchcraft by reading books on the topic. The first book, purchased from the Open Center’s bookstore where I volunteered as a marketing writer, was entitled “Positive Magic” by Marian Weinstein. After reading her book, I did a “spell” of sorts. It was actually quite simple and highly effective. On a yellow post-it note, I wrote a list in red ink of things that I intended to manifest in my life. A short while later, I had a well-paying job at a financial publishing company, an affordable studio sub-let apartment in Greenwich village, and had found some real-live Witches… who also happened to teach the Pagan Way in the back room of their occult gift and bookshop… which also happened to be right downstairs in the same building where I lived.
(Yes, that IS the theme from “The Twilight Zone” playing softly in the background.)
OK, in case you didn’t notice, this was the first time I experienced the “Poof, here it is” power of magick. Sure, I did all the things that one needs to do in the mundane world in order to find a new job and a great place to live and personal instruction in Witchcraft. And no, none of those things were “perfect endpoints” in and of themselves, but they were each major milestones that marked my progress among the Hidden Byways.
Living above a Wiccan bookshop for nearly four years taught me the value of reading as much as possible about a great many things, especially if an experienced, knowledgeable Witch recommends them. Lately, I’ve heard the Goddess calling me back to teach Wicca 101 again. And so, in preparation for that, I finally came up with a list of books that I would highly recommend to fellow Seekers of the Wiccan Way.
The first 5 books on the list are essential for increasing one’s scholarly, practical and historical understanding of Wicca and Neo-Pagan Witchcraft. The books by McLelland (3) and Hutton (4) clear up a great many myths and misperceptions commonly perpetuated by many well-meaning “Traditional” Craft teachers & authors. 7-9 cover the same material that any solid 13-week Wicca 101 course would present. These are “The Basics,” so to speak. The extra* book is for anyone who’d like to better understand Wiccan ethical philosophy.
If you’re searching for some rarely-known truths about Wicca and modern Neo-Pagan Witchcraft, I’d also recommend the “Wicca for the Rest of Us” Website at http://wicca.cnbeyer.com/
Blessed Be, Happy Yule & Merry KrampusFest—Gwynalda )O(
Trending Toward The Positive
By Evylyn Rose
Repurposing the “Never Again” Campaign
I caught myself thinking back to something like thirteen years ago when I was fresh into learning about Wicca and Witchcraft and had a thought I would like to share with you. A decade ago, personal websites about Wicca were a dime a dozen and usually shared all the same regurgitated, found-in-books information. A common theme among the majority of them was the slogan “Never Again, Burning Times.” It was a strong message to the world from Witches that they will never again be discriminated against for their beliefs and traditions.
The campaign seems to have died down, though its mention comes up every now and again. The death of the slogan “Never Again, Burning Times” is a good thing, really. It was based on poorly done research, misunderstanding of etymology, and plain ignorance. You see, the “Burning Times” referred to the Inquisition and famous witch hunts. The campaign preached deaths of millions rather than thousands (although still tragic) and insisted the whole ordeal was caused by fear and lack of knowledge of Witchcraft.
That was the major issue. The term “witch” in all those countries during those centuries meant someone who was evil, destroyed crops, ate babies, acted in accordance with the Devil’s will, etc. Witch hunts had nothing to do with wiping out a religion. They were not designed to go after witches as we use the term today and attack people because of their religious and spiritual beliefs Holocaust style. The actual intentions, motivations, politics, and psychology of the Burning Times was intricate and involved many factors including the governments, cultures, churches, and falsely supported propaganda in each area it was found.
There was plenty of understanding and knowledge of what Witchcraft was in each culture because they were the ones who crafted it. Such Witchcraft has no resemblance to modern Witchcraft and it is only because of an etymological mistake that we even call ourselves Witches and give new meaning and purpose to the word. Considering this, it’s laughable at best that we associate ourselves at all with past witch hunts as though every victim would have approved of and shared our beliefs and practices.
Looking at all the inaccuracies, outrageous claims, and weird associations such Witches placed on the Burning Times for the “Never Again” campaign, it’s no wonder it died. Who can take people seriously when they clearly do (or, at least, appear to) not know what they are talking about? Quite frankly, I am thankful it is gone. Not because it could not serve a purpose, but because it needed a different meaning.
The one thing the campaign had right is that Witches will not take anybody’s crap. We do not let people push us around. We do not let anyone force us or others to do anything against our wills. We will not stand for discrimination, prejudice, and violence against others for any reason. That is what “Never Again, Burning Times” should have meant.
When we look at some of the driving factors of the Burning Times, we see a mixture of fear, mass hysteria, ignorance, greed, prejudice, and corruption. (Arguably, the latter two were directed against women, but not Witches as we use the term today.) These are all things that we, as modern day Witches, can battle for the sake of our loved ones, our communities, the world, and ourselves. It is not a religious or spiritual fight, but a fight against negativity directed toward others.
When we say “Never Again” we should mean that we will not sit back idly while we are fed lies and inaccurate portrayals. We will not quickly jump to conclusions and judge others even when everyone else around us does (we do our research first). We stand up against those judgments and point out the flaws. We remain unafraid to speak or act when that is what is needed. We do not have to jump on the bandwagon of every “cause” to make this happen, but simply remain ready at all times to be more than a bystander when we are needed.
The Burning Times is a prime example of what happens when negative behaviors and herd mentality (as opposed to community-oriented mentality) are taken to an extreme. It started off small and scattered and only got as bad as it did because there were not enough people speaking out. Whenever someone did try to offer reason and intellectual approaches, they were often accused and outcast or punished, only intensifying the bystander and herd-like behaviors.
Our (Witches and everyone) job then, is to never let things get that bad again. There will always be negativity in the world and modern day witch hunts and other instances when reason and logic go fluttering out the window will continue to appear and reappear. With nearly seven billion people in the world, universal peace, understanding, and tolerance is a difficult task that will not happen in a single lifetime. However, we can all step up and be the Witches that we are, to make sure the world does not get worse. We can do so much to prevent another Inquisition-like occurrence and slowly nudge the world toward more positive actions.
Taking a line from the Wiccan Credo, “Where the rippling waters go, cast a stone and truth you’ll know.” In a world so vast and a population so huge, our actions in the large scheme of things are not like the ripples caused by throwing a stone in a pool of water. Instead, it is more like the stone you tossed in the creek or river. Nothing changes on the surface, but over the course of years, even millennia, that one stone plays a role in the life living in the water, the shape of the body of water it rests in, and even the course the water flows.
So whether or not we choose to let the “Never Again, Burning Times” slogan rest in peace and be remembered as the face-palm atrocity that it was, do be sure to take the real message of the Burning Times with you. Whenever you have an opportunity in your community, among friends, co-workers, and enemies, to do or not do something, to say or not say something, consider which stone you want to throw in the river. Which way does the river flow?
Recipes for This Month's Herb
Simply take 2-3 tbsp of dried ginger or a piece of fresh ginger about the size of your thumb (sliced up) and put it in a canning jar or pot, then pour about a quart of boiling water over it. Cover your infusion and let it steep for at least 20 minutes. You may also simmer the herb, with the same proportions, in a pot of water, for 20 minutes or more. This will provide you with a wonderful brew of warming tea.
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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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