Wednesday, May 28, 2008

No Place for Satan

The favorite, and crudest, Fundamentalist accusation against Pagans (and against Witches in particular) is that they worship Satin. It is quite simply not true, and it is astonishing how widely and unthinkingly this blatant lie has been believed.
Worship of the devil would be totally incompatible with the principles of Pagans. Pagans regard evil as an imbalance to be corrected, not as an independant force or entity.
Satan is a creation of Judeo-Christian Dualism, which has replaced the concept of creative polarity with that of good and evil as two independently existing forces at war with each other, instead of regarding evil as a state of imbalance requiring healing action. Dualism has also tended to identify good with the masculine and spirit, and evil with the feminie and with matter.
Jung made a substantial contribution to clear thinking on the levels of the psyche with his definitions of the conscious ego and the personal and collective unconscious, which should be in healthy interaction with each other. Official Christianity, with its fear of the feminie aspect, has always distorted this interaction into a Dualist confrontation between good and evil.
Paganism accepts the jungian view and is grateful to him for providing definitions which make the healthy interaction easier to understand and describe.
Pagans worship the same Ultimate as anyone else, however they may symbolize it. Monotheists, paradoxically, believe in two Ultimates, existing independently and at constant war with each other.
Satanism as a cult is alien to Paganism, which totally rejects it, whatever Fundamentalists and the gutter press claim. It is a negative image of Christianity, and its followers are often merely rejecting their upbringing by a wholesale inversion of parental beliefs, saying "up yours!" to Mom and Dad.
The notorious Black Mass is not a Pagan ritual, it is a Christian heretical blasphemy, a calculated mockery of the Mass by renegade Christians.
We do know of at least one group in Britian which calls itself Satanist, doubtless for initially rebellious reasons, but whose actual practises are above reproach; it will not allow anyone to be harmed, and we find its choice of name unfortunate and misleading. There are also groups which investigate the dark side, with the firm intention of getting natural light and dark in balance, and the names some of them choose may result in their being mistakenly regarded as Satanist.
The Christian image of Satan is a post biblical invention. In the old testament, Satan is a servant of God; his task is to test people's genuineness and ability to resist temptation (the book of Job gives a vivid account of this), and to report back to God accordingly. Not an endearing function, perhaps, but certainly not an evil one. Nor was Satan made into a fallen angel rebelling against his master, until much later.
Horns, throughout the old testament, are not a devilish symbol, but a sign of God given power. This symbol is recalled by the well known Michelangelo statue of Moses in the Vatican, which is equipped with horns.
But during the medieval persecution centuries, the image changed. The church inquistitors knew that Pagans and Witches worshipped a Horned God of Nature, which prompted them to equip Satan with horns so they they could say:
"Witches worship the devil, look, he has the horns to prove it!"
In Christian imagery, Satan is horned to this day, and most people believe mistakenly that he always has been.
Pagans do not believe that Satin exists, so how then can we worship him?
As with Paganism, there are many different forms of Satanism. It is generally accepted that it is divided into two seperate types, Traditional Satanism and Modern Satanism.
The first of these is the traditional anti-Christian Satanist, so loved by Hollywood horror film producers. It is the antithesis of Christianity; holding the notorious Black Mass, profaning all the Christian rites, defiling purity and reading the Lord's Prayer in reverse.
Traditional Satanism was originally a fantasy created by the church to instill fear into the population; later some elements of society adopted it as a rebellion against the Church's harsh laws.
If genuine traditional Satanists do exist, they are very secretive and remain rare.
Another type known as secular humanistic Satanism, is probably the most common, there
most well known orginazation of this category being Anton La Vey's Church of Satan. They do not believe in a personal devil nor in a personal God, but are egocentric in attitude. Their philosophy is devoted to opposing the restrictions and inhibitions forced upon man by the Christian Church.
They hold the Seven Deadly Sins to be virtues rather than vices, and this is echoed in La Vey's Nine Satanic Statements:

1. Satan represents indulgence, instead of abstinence!
2. Satan represents vital existence, instead of sprititual pipe dreams!
3. Satan represents undefiled wisdom, instead of hypocritical self-deceit!
4. Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it, instead of love wasted on ingrates!
5. Satan represents vengeance, instead of turning the other cheek!
6. Satan represents responsibility to the responsible, instead of concern for psychic vampires.
7. Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those who walk on all fours, who, because of his divine spiritual and intellectual development, has become the most vicious animal of all!
8. Satan represents all of those so called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification!
9. Satan has been the best friend the church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years!

We can agree with the ninth statement only; the other eight, apart from being cynical, are all philosophically and theologically flawed.
This form of Satanism remains a rebellion against the church, and only attracts those who are dissatisfied with it. It therefore cannot be considered a true spiritual path.
Recently, Satanic groups like the Church of Satan have been making overtures towards the Pagan movement to support them against Fundamentalist opposition, arguing that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"
We are glad to say that the Pagan movement has rejected this call for alliance; first of all Satanism, whether it likes it or not, has the same theology as Christianity and is not Pagan. It also has a philosophy which is totally alien to Pagan principles, disobeying the Wiccan eithic of "an it harm none".

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Lady of Shalott

On either side the river lie Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the world and meet the sky; And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-towered Camelot;

And up and down the people go, Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott

Willows whiten, aspens quiver, Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs forever By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.

Four grey walls, and four grey towers, Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow-veiled, Slide the heavy barges trailed
By slow horses; and unhailed The shallop flitteth silken-sailed
Skimming down to Camelot:

But who hath seen her wave her hand? Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early In among the summer barley,
Hear a tune that echoes cheerly From the river winding clearly
Down to towered Camelot:

And by the moon the reaper weary, Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers ''Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott.'

There she weaves by night and day A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.

She knows not what the curse may be, And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.

And moving thro' a mirror clear That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear. There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot:

There the river eddy whirls, And there the surly village-churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls,
Pass onward from Shalott.

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad, An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd lad, Or long-haired page in crimson clad,
Goes by to towered Camelot:

And sometimes thro' the mirror blue The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often thro' the silent nights A funeral, with plumes and lights,
And music, went to Camelot:

Or when the moon was overhead, Came two young lovers lately wed:
'I am half sick of shadows,' said
The Lady of Shalott.

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves, He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves, And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.

A red-cross knight for ever kneeled To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.

The gemmy bridle glittered free, Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy. The bridle bells rang merrily
As he rode down to Camelot.

And from his blazoned baldric slung A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armour rung,
Beside remote Shalott.

All in the blue unclouded weather Thick-jewelled shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather Burned like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot.

As often thro' the purple night, Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
Moves over still Shalott.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glowed; On burnished hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flowed His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.

From the bank and from the river He flashed into the crystal mirror,
'Tirra lirra,' by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the room, She made three paces thro' the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom, She saw the helmet and the plume,
She looked down to Camelot.

Out flew the web and floated wide; The mirror cracked from side to side;
'The curse is come upon me,' cried
The Lady of Shalott

The Lady of Shalott is one of my favorite poems and I hope you all enjoyed it as well. I never tire of reading it.
Brightest Blessings~!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Understanding Celtic Magick

To the Celtic peoples, magic was as common as breathing. It was not something set aside for special occasions anymore than was their beautiful twisting artwork. Like their intricate designs that decorated even ordinary utensils, magic was part of everyday life.
The Celts had no difficulty reconciling materialism and spiritual insight because they clearly understood that each is present in the other, that matter is only solidified spirit. Today we have trouble accepting that magickal law. Our minds have been bombarded by prejudiced opinions until we have become programmed to believe a blend of the material and spiritual is impossible.
We have been taught an error: that to be spiritual one cannot be materialistic. In defining materialistic I mean concerned with material well-being, not controlled by material things. By continuing to believe this lie, we place ourselves within a tightly-bound area that prohibits us from manifesting, by magic, what we need in our lives.
Ritual magic removes this programming, sometimes with drastic effect in an unprepared person. The practise of magic will quickly bring out the hidden side of any magician. That is why it is so important for a magician to really, truthfully, know him or herself and exercise self discipline.
Ritual magic is merely the taking of energy from another plane of existence and weaving that energy, by specific thoughts, words and practises, into a desired physical form or result in this plane of existence. The whole idea of magic is to contact various energy pools that exist in a dimension other than our own. Magicians do this deliberately because these energies add a vast amount of power to the energy for manifestation that we hold within ourselves. The prime purpose of ritual is to create a change, and we cannot do that without the combination of these energies. We need the assistance of these energy pools, which can be called Gods, deities, and elementals.
Everything used during ritual is a symbol of an energy that exists on another plane. Whether or not the magician properly connects with that specific energy and believes he or she can work magic depends upon on how well he or she understands its representative symbol which is used on this plane or world. Study of, and meditation on, ritual symbols is an important part of training.
In order to bring through the energy of the Gods or energy pools, the magician must set up a circuit of communication along which that power can flow. This is done by ritual use of symbols, ritual itself, visualization and meditation. To keep the incoming power from dissipating before being directed toward a particular goal, rituals are performed within a cast and consecrated circle. This provides a neutral energy area which will not siphon off or dissipate the incoming energy.
To correctly contact the appropriate energy pool, the magician uses as many symbols as possible that represent a specific deity power. For example, he or she will choose a color, incense, plant, stones, and statue or picture to help his or her visualization.
Also be aware that if you consistently call upon one particular deity power to the exclusion of all others, you will eventually begin to manifest characteristics of that energy pool within your personality. If this is done correctly in order to gain positive results, these changes will become part of your magickal personality. If not, they can cause changes of a negative kind.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Faery Magick

Faery Magick: Best Times and Places

It takes a certain kind of magick to believe in the world of faery. There has to be a deep and loving connection to the earth and an innocence of spirit. To discover the world of the fey, you must let go of what you think you know and allow yourself to experience a whole other level of awareness. You must pay attention to all your senses, both physical and psychic, if you want to encounter the faeries. However, you can stack the odds in your favor once you realize that there are certain times, places and days of the year when the veil between our world and the faery realm is thin. Faery activity is at it's peak and it is here you are most likely to have the best luck viewing, contacting, and working with the faeries.

As to the proper time to communicate with or to work your faery spells and enchantments, go for the classic "in-between" times. These 'tween times are at dawn, dusk, noon, and midnight. Dawn and dusk are the perfect 'tween times, as these moments during the day are neither one nor the other. It's somewhere magickally between daylight and dark. Noon marks the smack dab middle of the day. While many would never even consider trying a spell at noon, they need to open their eyes and realize that magickal opportunities surround them more frequently than they think. Sure, casting a spell at midnight is more likely to feel mysterious and witchy, but noon is a 'tween time to. Is it morning or night, or is it both? On the flip side midnight is the best known magickal time. As it is neither night nor morning, one calender day or the next, it actually hovers for a brief moment just in between the two.

The general rule of thumb when it comes to faery haunts is to look for the outdoor places that are also in between, such as a stream or riverbank. If you are standing on the banks, then you are neither in the water or on dry land, you are in between, same thing goes for ocean beaches and lake shorelines. Faeries are found in more places then just the forest; they like the water as well. Also keep your eyes open if you happen to be in a place where streams intersect or divide, and geographical areas where two or three rivers meet. These are natural, powerful, and sacred places.

The garden and the local woods also provide you with many excellent opportunities for working with faeries. Nature spirits love the flowers, so whether they grow in your backyard garden, you stumble across a little cluster of wildflowers tucked under a tree in the woods, or you happen across a field of wildflowers, faery activity will be present. Also, consider the hedgerows, under a tree in the park, at a crossroads in your neighborhood, or even under the stairs of your house.
It is certainly true that the faeries are out and about all the time and on every day of the year. However, there are days and then there are "days". The eight sabbats are prime faery days. So are the nights of the Full Moon, including the occasional Blue Moon. Also, some texts claim that you will find success on the day of the New Moon as well.

Hand in hand, with faery grace,
Will we sing, and bless the place.

This is an article I enjoyed from my Witches Datebook 2008 by Ellen Dugan so I thought I would share it with all of you.
Brightest Blessings,