Welcome to the front lines! You won't find spells here. You won't find Wicca or Witchcraft 101. You likely won't even find a group of Pagans that agree on any of those. What you will find is discussion, debate and commentary on issues big and small from members of the community that believe seeing all sides and taking a stance isn't a right but a responsibility. Come in and sit a spell. Or better yet, come in and add YOUR voice to our efforts. You won't regret it.

The Pagans United Mission:

The mission of Pagans United is to help Pagan Americans engage in both the social and political arenas. We do this by creating a sense of unity within the diverse Pagan community, through public outreach, education, and activism while acting as stewards of Mother Earth at all times.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Grinch Stole Tolerance and Common Sense

Growing up, I loved the holiday season (yes holiday season... as in the period from Thanksgiving in late November until after the New Year). People actually seemed... nicer around this time of year. Everyone always seemed to be smiling and laughing and just generally having a good time. I don't know if I just grew up or if people really did change, but I have to confess that the holidays begin to wear my nerves thin the older I get.

Don't get me wrong, I still love the decorations and buying massive amounts of stuff that people really don't need. I have a soft spot for buying stuff for other people. I just can't help it. I go into a shopping frenzy and buy more crap than I care to own up too. And that part never gets old. Nor does singing silly songs to my nephews because I can't ever remember the words to Rudolph, or helping Kaia steal candy canes from the tree for his little brother. Some of it is still good.

But... people don't seem very nice this time of year any more. Everyone is caught up in the entire War on Christmas hoopla to remember that regardless of belief; it is a great time of year to just enjoy being alive. Instead of a smile when a greeting is given, you get the annual diatribes about how wrong and/or offensive it is to give that greeting. Instead of admiring decoration genius, you get the annual diatribe about how environmentally unfriendly it is.

And each year, it progressively worsens. Instead of the typical news about a nativity scene being disputed this year, we heard that a Wiccan pentacle was being placed next to that particular scene in no less than two different cities. I actually sent up a little cheer for the folks in those areas for having a little spirit and tolerance. Unfortunately, it didn't last. Within hours of hearing that particular spot of news, the usual furor erupted. People were their usual pissy holiday selves and had a fit.

And then of course, the displays in both instances were damaged and the mayor of Green Bay decided he didn't know anything about the symbol in the first place and that the City Council needed to debate the issue, putting a hold on any decoration aside from the nativity scene in his city.

Well! Isn't that becoming rather typical of this time of year?

It truly begins to wear thin and makes me wonder if people really are so incredibly ignorant that they don't realize how hypocritical they tend to be at this time of year?

I mean, you have Christians screaming about how we should say Merry Christmas and allow Nativity scenes. But, when it comes time for them to wish someone a Happy Hanukkah or allow a Pentacle to be displayed, all hell breaks loose. And it's not just Christians either. Religious groups on every side of the fence have become so puffed up with their own self importance that they've missed the rather glaring fact that they all sound an awful lot alike.

Wiccans in this case are absolutely outraged that the symbols were damaged and/or couldn't be replaced, but I have to question whether or not those same people were outraged when the nativity scene at UNCG was vandalized. I certainly didn't get a flurry of notices of outrage from the community on that one. In fact, I didn't hear a peep from anyone on it. The community was suspiciously quiet over it. But, as soon as the Pentacle news broke, my inbox started flooding.

That's becoming all too typical. Why is it that we are outraged and wish others to be so right along side us when it is our symbol, our holiday, or our faith questioned, damaged, perverted, etc but we're quite content with ignoring it when it happens to someone else? We all preach about having a little heart or spirit, but it seems to be lacking across the board. In truth, I begin to wonder if those holiday unspecific people might just have it right after all. At least they aren't ranting and raving about one thing somewhere and ignoring the same thing somewhere else.

It no longer matters what holiday you're fighting for, whether it be Christmas, Yule, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc. They all amount to the same thing. More intolerance.

Personally, I find there is enough of that floating around already. I'm not fighting for any holiday this year or any other year. Instead, I've decided to fight for something altogether different. A return of common sense and general good will. That's what's really gone missing. And unfortunately, we've all become a little too Grinchy to realize it.

Previously posted to ProgressiveU.org

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Living the Essence of Craft: Walking our Talk in a Real World.

Living the Essence of Craft: Walking our Talk in a Real World.
By: Lady Cerridwyn StormDragon

We have all heard complaints about people in our Magickal Community not "Walking their talk" and many times we have even joined in the discussion placing our own values to what walking our talk really means. This is a very normal thing for us to do as humans; we see everything through our own perceptions. Our perceptions become our reality because it is through our eyes, our experiences, our values, and our learned behaviors that we judge those around us. For those who have learned the necessity of controlled chaos they are judged to be control freaks and wanting things to only go their way. To some who have learned the necessity of social acceptance/tolerance they are judged to be too passive and complacent. To some who have learned the necessity of focused Will they are judged to be too unbendable. To some who have learned the need for Leadership they are judged to be too strict. To some who have learned the need for hierarchy they are judged too proud or stuck up. To some who have learned the path of Craft is an individual walk they are judged to be too reclusive.

In reality people can only be held accountable to what they know and responsible for what they have committed to do. What does this mean you may ask? Well what it means is that we cannot place everyone on the same scale or to the same ethical standards. A general non-descript self taught pagan cannot be held accountable to the same level as the High Priestess or the Magnus. Because actions are the result of inner guidance and knowing and general pagans have not had the training or the experience that the High Priestess or the Magnus have had. They do not share the same experiences, the same knowledge, the same knowing, the same initiations, or the same commitments.

Now let's look at what a witch is I will share with you something I am sure you have all heard as I heard it from Lady Rhea.

What is a Witch?
The questions "What is a Witch? What is a Pagan?" continue to be asked. It is difficult to separate the two for they have become almost as one. An old saying goes, "All witches are pagans, but not all pagans are witches.) This is true, but not as true as it once was. There are those who call themselves Pagans who are truly Witches, and those who call themselves Witches who are truly Pagans. In days of yore, to be a Pagan was to live, simply, with the Earth, following the seasons, joining with other Pagans in the celebrations of the turning of the Wheel. The Witch went beyond these simpler ways, seeking to know, to understand, and to put to use the deeper mysteries and magic of the universe, thereby becoming "The Wise One." Today the two are melding into one, as those who call themselves Pagans extend their boundaries of knowledge and practice.

A Witch is a part and the whole of the Universe, giving birth to the Gods and Goddesses as they give birth to her. She springs from the depths of the tumultuous seas, rises to the heavens, only to return--sometimes gently, sometimes violently--to her beloved Earth. There she begins the journey anew, rising as the sparkling spring, becoming the tinkling brook, the flowing stream, the rushing waters of the mighty river, returning again and again to the womb of the sea.

She is the rich soil of Mother Earth, and the tiny seed cradled in the nourishing depths of Her soil. Warmed by the Sun, she springs forth and begins the struggle of life. Slowly, sometimes
painfully, inch-by-inch she reaches higher, sending her roots deeper into the Earth as she reaches for the Heavens. The Wise One knows her strength comes from the Earth, of which she is a part, and there must be a solid unity of the self, for those whose roots are shallow and without substance will wither in the heat of life's fires, and be toppled by the storms and gales of life.

The Witch is the blazing Sun and the candle's flame, lighting the dark corners, chasing away the shadows. She absorbs the Light of Knowledge, then sends forth its rays to light the path of those around her. She is the spark igniting the log, and the dancing flame which consumes it, while sending forth light, warmth, and love. Others gaze on her and, blinded by her brilliance, are lured into the other-world of dreams and fantasies by her hypnotic dance. She is the gentle breeze cooling the brow of those who labor, and the mighty gale, forcing all in her path to bend before her will. She plays through the trees and grasses, and teases the locks of the maidens. She brings the scent of the prey to the hungry hunter and blows away the tracks of the pursued. She feeds the fire-flame and joins in its dance, until, tiring of the game, she extinguishes it with one mighty breath.

The Witch is the babe in the womb and the child in the arms of the Mother. She is the maiden racing through the Sun drenched fields, and dancing coyly in the moonlight. She is the eternal
woman in the arms of her lover, the mother giving birth and caring for her young. She is the Old One, sharing her knowledge and love with those who follow in her steps, waiting, with happy heart, for the time when the cycle begins anew.

The Witch is the Wise One, and to her door come those who seek to share in her knowledge, light, and love. And to all who seek she gives what is asked, freely, joyfully, with no thought of return except the joy she finds through the sharing. All are her children, all are her love, all are herself. She are they, and they are she.

The Wise One knows that as the parts were separated, so, too, must they are united.
The Witch stands with her feet firmly one with Mother Earth, raising her face to Mother Moon and Father Sun, and to the All from whence we came. And, standing solidly there, she flows with the tides, drifts with the winds, and warms herself at the flame of the Light of Knowledge. And always there is a twinkle in her eye, a smile on her lips, a lilt to her song, and peace within. She worships all Gods and Goddesses, yet she worships only one. She takes all, and gives all. Her Gods and Goddesses ask no sacrifice, yet she offers unto them the ultimate sacrifice--herself.
The Witch is the God and the Goddess, the Ancient Ones, the Guardians of the Watchtowers. She is Air and Earth and Fire and Water. She is the grain from which the bread is baked and the grape from which the wine was pressed. She is the incense rising to the heavens and the flame dancing on the candle; the peal of the bell and the pages of the Book. She is each knot in the cords, which binds her, and the blue flame, which sparks from her Blade. She is the cone of power rising into the Universe, and its target.

What is a Witch?
Everything -- and Nothing.

Lady Rhea, 1982

So as we can see the pagan and the witch share many things in common but yet they are different. Well what about us, you may ask? There are many different paths and many different forms in this Magickal Community from Wiccans, to Witches, to Druids, to Shaman, to Astatru, to Unicorns, to Dragons, to way too many differences for me to mention here, but what I am going to focus on is not what makes us different but what makes us the same or should I say what should make us the same Walking our talk whatever form that takes. Because as I said before we can only be held accountable for what we know and responsible for what we have committed ourselves to.

Most of the Magickal Community reveres Nature as sacred and strives to live in harmony with nature and her cycles. This means we do what we can to be conscious of our impact on the Earth and her creatures great and small. We live by the teachings of the Wheel and the lessons the seasons teach us. That we treat nature with respect and reverance and we understand her needs and though our being ecologically conscious we do what is best for her not what is most
convenient for us. That we hold sacred her Moon times and we work with the ebb and flow of her moontimes and her seasons. Well how do we do that, we walk our talk, and we show these things through our actions. Here are a few ideas to get us walking this part of our talk.

1.Revere and respect the Natural world and nature. Recycle everything that you can recycle. Many things are recyclables today from paper, to plastic, to aluminum, to glass, to our household goods, our clothing, and even our magickal tools and books. Remember a part of being one of the wise is to understand that as we give so we receive and that our resources should never be wasted on things that will just wind up in a dump or landfill to spoil our Nature's beauty. That the less we use, the less we waste, the less we will need, and as people of the Craft we are called to protect the Earth and keep her natural beauty.

A.Many places have curbside recycling but if you don't, most places have access to a recycling center. Sort through the things you dispose of everyday without even thinking about the impact all those disposable things have on the Earth, stop and think and know that while your sorting through that garbage your saying that you care enough about the Earth and Nature to walk as lightly as you can on her.

B.Household goods can be recycled within our Magickal community, the Goodwill, a homeless shelter, or even through a Free cycle board. If it is still in workable or fixable condition but it has been replaced or no longer fits into your life then recycle it, share it with someone to whom it will bring happiness to.

C.What happens as we age and our children grow? Many of our clothing items no longer fits us or them. In stead of throwing them away cluttering up the landfills why not give them to someone within community who could use them or give them to a shelter, to Goodwill or list them in a free cycle board and give them to others who do what they can to create less waste. Or we can make other things out of the materials held within those cloths. We can turn skirts,
shirts, pants, or whatever into quilts, cleaning rags, potholders, or other clothing items. There is nothing more satisfying than creating something beautiful out of something that would have been tossed out.

D.Use cleaning rags and wash them instead of constantly using paper towels and throwing them away (or you can rinse out the paper towel and use it several times before tossing it like a certain Elder we all know). Store things in reusable containers instead of all those throw away bags or wash your plastic bags and re-use them. Make cloth bags or buy mesh bags and take them to the store with you and you won't have to decide between paper and plastic and guess
what if your bags get dirty they can be washed and they won't be adding to the land fills in this instant and disposable world we live in.

E.Reuse water bottles by refilling them and making sure when you leave the house everyone has a drink. This way you not only keep things out of the landfills but you save yourself some hard earned cash too.

F.Stay away from paper plates and cups. Use regular dishes and wash them even when you come to a gathering always make sure that you bring your Feast Gear. Most Gathering places have a place you can wash and rince your own dishes so that isn't an issue and your letting everyone know that the health of the Earth means something to you.

G.Buy things in Bulk whenever possible. If you get in the habit of buying things in bulk and then splitting things up into useable amounts you have less waste to throw away and here again you save that hard earned cash.

H.Give, Gift, or Trade your old magickal tools, books, or other things. People new to our ways many times don't have everything they feel they need and the price of anything seen as magickal has gone out of the roof since the time when I worked at a Metaphysical store
15 years ago were priced at fifty cents now can cost new person ten dollars or more. Or better yet learn to make your magickal needs from things found in nature or around your home.

2 .Start a garden even if it is on your porch, deck, patio, or even in an apartment in earth boxes. There are many lessons that we learn through gardening that are not seen as clearly without the experience. When you grow your own food or even just a few food items you soon learn that your harvest is in proportion to the time and energy you invest in it. You realize that you have to ready the planting space and the soil to be ready to accept the seeds and that different things have different requirements. You must make sure that you know what each plant needs to thrive and grow and make sure you are placing your hopes and energy in the right area. Then you have to plant the seeds at varying depths according to the needs of that plant and you plant more seeds than you will need because not every seed will become a plant. The seeds have to be tended very gently at first as seedlings are delicate and much care must be taken to protect these new comers and to tend to the needs. They must be watered and weeded and allowed the time to get roots strong enough to find nourishment from the Earth and given water at times
when the it is dry or the plant will wither and die. For quite some time you have to tend these beautiful creatures before they bloom and give you a sign that you are right on track towards a harvest, but the work doesn't stop there. They must be protected from pests, bugs, and people who just don't get it and would trample them to death. At the end of the cycle if due diligence has been taken and we have worked with nature then we are rewarded with a bountiful
harvest that nourishes not only our body but also our spirits. I think that the lessons we as a community can learn from the experience of gardening is more important than ever in this world of microwaves, instant foods, and McDonald happy meal type pagans. Those are the people who read a book or see a movie and poof they are a pagan, a wiccan, a witch or whatever. These McDonald Happy Meal Pagans expect instant gratification and instant substance in this instant disposable world of ours and they believe that all there is to life or their life garden is add water or zap in a microwave and poof it is done. They do not understand that our way of belief is one set firmly in nature, her cycles, time, learning, and most of all hard committed work. But there are certain things we can do to help our gardens grow or help participate in the natural
cycles of a gardens life even if we don't grow our own food. Do you see the connection with what feeds our bodies and what feeds our soul, both do best when done with care and the heart of a true seeker.

A.Grow organically. Organic gardening does not use chemicals that are harmful to Mother Earth. It uses Earth friendly products and crop rotation. It uses helper bugs to rid your garden of the nasty one's who would ruin your harvest. It gives the proper respect to the Earth and her creatures great and small as we should give her.

B.If you can not grow an organic garden then perhaps you could join a community garden where you will still get the experience of what all goes into obtaining a harvest.

C.If you can not do either then buy organically where you can and support the farmers who are supporting your ideals of protecting the Earth and trying to do as little harm as possible. In America 90% of our food is grown by large conglomerates that do not give back to the Earth. Their entire business is built around the all mighty dollar. This is one of the reasons we are having as many health related issues these days as we do. The food grown today contains 40% less nutrition than the same thing did just 50 years ago and much of the food we eat contains harmful chemicals that not only pollute our Beloved Earth but our own bodies as well.

3.As pagans, wiccans, witches, or whatever Nature based belief system you aspire to, we are connected by nature and the natural world. Most of us practice rites or rituals that are based in the natural rhythm of the Moon (our esbats) and of the Quarters and Cross Quarters (our eight Sabbats). Our connection to this sacred and natural cycle is clear through our rites or rituals that we consciously and knowingly attune ourselves to through our rites. As the cycle changes from spring, to summer, to autumn, to winter so do we change from birth, to growth, to decline, and then death, only to be born again. We also learn that within this wheel there is an inner wheel with each passing yearly cycle. That in the spring we plant the seeds of Spirit within our life garden's that we would like to harvest. In summer we tend these seeds by putting into real
life actions the expectations of these growing seeds, expecting a bountiful harvest to come. In the autumn we harvest the bountiful rewards of the seeds of Spirit or the lack of rewards if we forgot to tend our precious life seeds. And in winter we take time to reflect on our harvest to see if we got out of our life garden what we expected or wanted. If we did have a bountiful harvest and we were successful during our growing season then we decide what to plant for the next cycle, if we did not get the life harvest we hoped for then we reflect, evaluate, and fine tune next years planting plan. The Wheel of the year has a special meaning to many of us as told so beautifully by Lady Galadriel when she explained the interplay of the God and Goddess as it relates to the Wheel of the Year.

"In love, the Horned God, ever-changing his form and face, seeks the Goddess. In this world the search and the seeking appear as the Wheel of the Year. She is the Great Mother who gives birth to him as the divine Sun Child at the time of the Winter Solstice. In Spring He is the Sower and the Seed who grows with the increasing light, as green as the new shoots. She is the initiatrix who then teaches him the mysteries of manhood. In summer, when the light is longest, they meet in union, and the strength of their passion brings forth the fruits of this world. In fall, the God weakens, just as the suns light weakens, until at last he dies when the earth is harvested. He sacrifices himself to his children, that all may be nourished. The Goddess then becomes the reaper of the grain, the grave of the earth, to which all things must one day
return. Throughout the long nights and dark days he sleeps within her womb and dreams. Thus he is also known as the Lord of the Otherworlds, the ruler of the lands of youth beyond the gates of night and day. The dark tomb of the earth becomes the womb of his rebirth, and at midwinter the Lady once again gives birth to him. The cycle ends and begins again, and the Wheel of the Year turns on and on."

Lady Galadriel 1990.

So there are certain things we can do to Walk our talk as it relates to the Wheel of the Year or Nature.

A.Remember to Celebrate the Sabbats and the turning of the wheel for it helps us to connect to the natural rhythm of life, of the Earth and of the God and Goddess.

B.Remember the reasons behind our rituals and rites, they are not parties but they are to bring us closer to our Gods and Goddesses and to help fine-tune us to the Wise Ones we are called to become.

C.Remember the ancient reasons for the rites to help us see that for everything there is a season. There is a time to be born or plant, there is a time to grow, there is a time to celebrate our sexuality and our fertility, there is a time to nurture, there is a time to protect, there is a time to harvest, there is a time to decline and a time to die, so that our sacred cycle can start anew.

D.Celebrate sex and our sexuality as sacred and natural. They are a natural part of our experience here on Earth and our Gods and Goddesses have shown us their sacredness, beauty, and their importance in our growth. It is through our embracing our own sexuality and the sacredness of sex that we can see the divine union of duality that creates the spark of life.

4.Be who you are called to become and know that through the Commitment to our ways and a code of Honor, we can become the "wise" and know how to walk our talk.

A .Those who call themselves a "wise one" must learn certain attributes; these are attributes like honesty, bravery, kindness, and generosity.

B. Commitment is not something to enter into lightly and one's oath is a sacred pledge so pledge sparingly for a wise one's word should be as iron. If you have made a commitment to someone that you will keep their secrets then do so because to share those words spoken in confidence is breaking a sacred oath and brings dishonor to you and makes your word mean nothing.

C. The wise do not pass hearsay or spread gossip for the truth may not be known. So speak no ill of any other for until all facts are known you could be spreading lies and breaking your own code of honor. If one of the wise have an issue with another it should be taken directly to that other person and worked out between the people involved. If an agreement can not be reached then the disagreement should be taken to the High Priestess, High Priest, or a trusted Elder so that each person can have their own perceptions widened and clearer vision can occur. Remember the fury of the moment can play with the heads of even the wise, so keep calm and don't pass judgment until all of the truth is known.

D. Demand honesty in all of your relations and expect nothing but honesty back. There has been much damage done to our community and what the public in general thinks about us by our allowing pretenders, posers, and liars to remain in our numbers. If someone tells you something that is not true don't be afraid to tell them, just as if someone is talking the talk of the "wise" but not walking the walk let them know this is not our way, and they need to become or leave. Our community has a large clean up time ahead of us because of our refusal to be honest and demanding the same in return. We looked the other way and tried not to see so that we could be deemed friendly. Look where that has gotten us, it is time to walk the walk of the wise and expect other "Wise Ones" to do the same. It was said in days of old to pledge friendship only to those who's life and ways warranted friendship that strengthening our brothers and sisters brought strength to ourselves, but pledging friendship to those who do not walk their talk, who lie, or who dishonorable things will dishonor you also.

E.Revere the Gods and Goddesses of your tradition. Be Loyal to your Tradition, your circle, coven, temple, or grove and show that loyalty by how you treat your Elders, high priestess, High Priest, Matriarch, Magnus, and your brothers and sisters. These people are your magickal family and they walk the same path as you do. Rise above sibling rivalry and respect those who are leaders of our ways.

F.Respect the ways or paths of others with an understanding that it matters not which path we take our paths will meet again in the ceneter of the circle with enlightenment, knowing, understanding, and a respect of the walk of the inner self. Don't discount the words of another member of the magickal community because their ways are different. Instead deem them worthy or unworthy by the walk, their honor, their heart, and their commitment to the sacred ways.

G.Seek perfection within yourself and have pride in who you are, On the inside and on the outside.Understand that you are not perfect yet and that you will make mistakes or fall short
sometimes. There are many lessons that we learn by falling down and having to get back up. Accept those lessons and honor those lessons by admitting when your wrong, be accountable for all of your actions and be responsible for yourself. One can not be considered one of the wise ones without self accountability and self responsibility. Because without being able to be accountable for one's self one can not have any honor and if one can not be honorable they can not see or give honor to another.

H.Being one of the "wise" is to seek wisdom, which is a knowing put into practice and through the experience we understand the lesson and gain wisdom. But with that wisdom there come added power and with that power comes a need for even more wisdom and discretion. (Do we see why we cannot even be considered a wise one without self-accountability and self-responsibility now?) With this wisdom we understand that all acts of the wise need moderation and discernment, as I have told my Martial Arts students during their training we use as little force necessary to accomplish our goal. We never hurt when we can just talk, we never maim, when we can just hurt, and we never kill when we can just maim. I can hear many of you now going we never harm it is against the Rede. Malarkey!!!!
Harm is done every day within the Magickal community with power plays, gossip, people not being who they claim to be, incorrect judgments, lies and perpetuating those lies. The wisdom the rede brings to us is this, if it will not harm anything, anyone, or yourself then do as you will, don't give it a second thought. However, if what you are considering can/will create harm somewhere then you need to think on it long and hard. You need to do the divination necessary to make sure your eyes are wide open walking into something prior to taking any action because once the action is done it is too late to say oops you have left yourself wide open to the Laws of Karma, nature, and of the community you belong to. The wise know that will is a two sided blade and are very careful how they use it.

So what does all of this have to do with walking our talk?
Everything. When new ones come into our community what do they see?
Do they see the "Wise Ones" that we claim to be Walking their talk and being a wonderful example of essence of Craft or do they see a bunch of Jim Jones, Jimmy Swaggarts, Tammy and Jim Bakers, or Priests who do unspeakable things like the organized church has? If we do not pay heed to these warnings and make sure that our Daily walk is one in keeping with the "Ways of the Wise" then we will be seen as they are as hypocrites and bottom feeders who claim much but through their life walk are seen as pretenders, posers, and blocks to any real growth, enlightenment, or wisdom. So choose to Walk the Walk of the "Wise" 24/7 and show your commitment to Craft in everything you do, or walk away.

The challenge is clear either Walk the Walk or stop talking the Talk.

Lady Cerridwyn Stormdragon
The Magickal/ Pagan Community, decay or regeneration, you decide.
By : Lady Cerridwyn StormDragon

Magickal and pagan people have had a long and colorful existence and as with anything that has been around for a long time it follows a natural cycle or rhythm. In it's conception these wonderful magickal people were everywhere and were free to explore, learn, and grow. Then the magical people were invaded upon, by people, who did not appreciate their ways of loving the Earth, nature, and their belief that anything was possible because the magick was everywhere and within everything. These crusaders/ invaders bullied, hurt, and even killed the magickal people because they were afraid of their difference, their freedom loving ways, their natural ways, their ability to feel, to love, to learn, to live. So the magical people went into hiding and some of them even went as far as to forget the old ways and they refused to teach it to any but a few special and risky individuals who could be trusted with keeping the record of the ways, kept it alive.

Then there came a push by a few individuals to bring the old ways out of the proverbial closet and make them accessible to the many by scattering the magickal seeds to the winds, and as most things in the northern hemisphere, it started in the East and just like the sun and moon it soon spread West. Luckily or unfortunately, according to your perception, the seeds to a renaissance of Magick flew everywhere and the rebirth of Magick was prepared for. Some of those early seeds found their was into some freedom loving creative individuals who were trail blazers and decided to tell others that all they needed was love, to peacefully protest the injustices they saw, to open your mind, and to take the time to feel instead of simply following the set cycle of beliefs. Some of these seeds were used to fuel the changes that needed to occur to fertilize the soil so the soil could support a future harvest. The world experienced a great upheaval as some trail blazers decided that the fear, hatred, indifference, bigotry, and limiting ways needed to be exposed for what were and tried to show the world a different perspective. This chaos or upheaval was necessary to regain the balance because in order to change a cycle one must experience new ways or growth and the cycle of growth is experienced in the cycle of order-chaos-order.

Then the magical seeds took form and what began as heirloom type seeds were bred into many different hybrids of magick, and magickal community became a colorful garden. Some of the seeds became unrecognizable when looked at by their magickal parentage yet they were indeed spawned by the broadcasting of the magickal seeds 50 years earlier. But look at how these magickal seeds changed the world. In the middle of the last millennium children were to be seen and not heard and their role was to become the next worker drones in the work force. The teenagers were screaming to be heard through rock and roll and movies, this was the start of teen idols who were seen as "bad boys, or rebels", like James Dean or Elvis Presley. All of a sudden the teens were divided into groups like the responsible, the beat-niks, and the wild ones and the seeds of change grew. Then we progressed into the 1960's and we had the Beetles, the Rolling Stones, Hendrix, Joplin, Pink Floyd, and others who expressed their non- conventional views of love, togetherness, self-expression, letting, go, and embracing change. We were inundated with exotic flavors and differences like Hippies, Pagans, Flower Children, Guru's, TM practitioners, and it became acceptable to explore the differences. This was a part of the grand scheme of things because the Baby Boom from WW11 had placed 70 million teenagers to be large and in charge of the change during the 1960's. Many of these teens saw the need for a change in the social order, they wanted to be heard, they wanted more than just a home, family, church, and work, they wanted to explore life and the cosmos. The fear and injustices that had been brought into light were addressed and Civil Rights became huge and a fought for issue, with the free love mentality and exposure of sex by Dr. Kinsey, birth control pills became accessible to women, women's lib started to combat the Presidential Commission on the status of women in 1963. The magickal seeds found soil that had been fertilized and tilled by the chaos of the times and the seeds started to flourish and the world changed at warp speed.

Why do I bring up these things that happened prior to some of you being born? Because these were all events that occurred to bring us to the place we are today where the magickal/pagan community is the colorful creature it is today. Good or bad, right or wrong, sensible or not, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to take up the torch and pick up the hoe and watering can and choose to nurture the changes started half a millennium ago and pave the way for those who will walk this path in the future. Is it time for us to weed our community with those we see as not like ourselves? Is it time for us to try to compromise our freedom loving roots and try to fit in? Is it time for us to allow the hate, fear, and injustices that provoked the change to seep back in and taint the fertile soil? Is it time for Magick to go underground and be taken out of the public eye, returning to our proverbial broom closets? What is the answer is it blowing in the wind? What we choose to do, as a community, will affect not only ourselves, but also the future. This is the time of changes and not the time to become complacent. "We have come a long way baby" because of some special people with a handful of magick seeds and many spirited individuals who were ready for a change and not afraid to do the work needed to change the world and our existence. What the future holds for our children, our grandchildren or as the Native Americans say the seventh generation is up to each of us, we are the present and we can nurture the future and help it grow or we can choose to become complacent and allow the weeds of hate, fear, indifference, and laziness to decide the future for us. The time of changes is upon us and the future harvest is up to us; it is our turn to tend the garden, what is your decision?
Live Blessed,
-- ---------------
The opposite of bravery is not cowardice, but conformity.
~Robert Anthony

Monday, October 29, 2007

Twas the Evening of Samhain
by Cather Steincamp

'Twas the evening of Samhain, and all through the placewere pagans preparing the ritual space.

The candles were set in the corners with care, in hopes that the Watchtowers soon would be there.

We all had our robes on (as is habitual)

and had just settled down and were starting our ritual

when out on the porch there arose such a chorus that we went to the door, and waiting there for us

were children in costumes of various kinds with visions of chocolate bright in their minds.

In all of our workings, we'd almost forgot,but we had purchased candy (we'd purchased a LOT),

And so, as they flocked from all over the street, they all got some chocolate or something else sweet.

We didn't think twice of delaying our rite, Kids just don't have this much fun every night.

For hours they came, with the time-honored schtick of giving a choice: a treat or a trick.

As is proper, the parents were there for the games,

Watching the children and calling their names."On Vader, On Leia,On Dexter and DeeDee,On Xena, on Buffy,Casper and Tweety!

To the block of apartmentson the neighboring road; You'll get so much candy, you'll have to be TOWED!

"The volume of children eventually dropped, and as it grew darker, it finally stopped.

But as we prepared to return to our rite, One child more stepped out of the night.She couldn't have been more than twelve or thirteen.

Her hair was deep red, and her robe, forest greenwith a simple gold cord tying off at the waist.

She'd a staff in her hand and a smile on her face. No make-up, nor mask, or accompanying kitsch, so we asked who she was; she replied "I'm a witch.

And no, I don't fly through the sky on my broom; I only use that thing for cleaning my room.

My magical powers aren't really that neat,but I won't threaten tricks; I'll just ask for a treat.

"We found it refreshing, so we gave incense cones, A candle, a crystal, a few other stones,And the rest of the candy (which might fill a van).

She turned to her father (a man dressed as Pan)and laughed,

"Yes, I know, Dad, it's past time for bed,"and started to leave,

but she first turned and said"I'm sorry for further delaying your rite.Blessed Samhain to all, and a magical night."


Wishing all a wonderous Samhain. May the Lord and Lady bless you and watch over you in the New Year. May the Lord and Lady watch over our Troops and bring them all home soon!!

So Mote it Be

Laura, President/Founder
Pagans United

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Embrace the Eye of the Storm!

Most of the world likes to play it safe. They go to their safe jobs, come home to their safe relationships, they drive safe cars, they invest money in safe corporations, they think safe thoughts, and they want nothing more than to feel safe and secure. Survival of the fittest dictates that these people live another day and therefore get to breed and would make up the majority of the population. We could say that they play it smart.

But there is another kind, too. This other group lives for thrills. They don’t just occasionally think outside the box, they actually prefer to live outside the box. This is a group who thrives on adventure, change, and newness. They love innovative new ideas, they like to explore new things, and push the envelope beyond its capabilities. They are the visionaries who perceive something beyond where we stand today.

This group often does not feel understood nor supported by the mainstream population. They are not rebels, although they are often accused of being rebellious because they do not embrace the status quo. This group is not anti-anything. They do not define themselves by NOT being a member of someone else’s group. They do not require group consensus to be who they are. Young adults often think that by dressing badly or by misbehaving that they are somehow brave and different from whatever it is that they are opposing, but that is not revolutionary and different, that is just anger turned inside out. Most of the time they are not accomplishing anything by simply making a mess of their lives. They are not making a point, they are not changing the world, they are simply behaving in a manner that causes people to shun them. That is not the group I am talking about today.

This group is made up of people like Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Nikola Tesla, Susan B Anthony, Melissa Etheridge, Nelson Mandela, and countless others who do not strive to be different nor to go against the mainstream beliefs. They simply are different, they think different, they live different, and they make passionate choices to contribute something meaningful to humanity despite the fact that others oppose them. All of these people stand tall despite the chaos and anger of those surrounding them. “Why can’t you just leave well enough alone? Why do you always have to push people too far? Why can’t you just get along?”

Those who would keep things safe and comfortable become frightened and angry at these innovative new thinkers. They torment them, threaten them, mistreat them, ostracize them, and create a storm of ugliness to try and stop these people from simply sharing the gifts of their hearts that they were born to share with humanity. Years later, often after they have long been dead, future generations can look back in hindsight and see their bravery as admirable. But in the moment, these people are historically treated terribly. These people are typically men and women of peace who do not go out with an angry rebellious need to stir up trouble. They fight for higher ideals because in their heart of hearts they truly believe that things could be better for mankind. They hold a vision of better things to come and they follow that vision wherever it takes them.

Today there are millions of people who would change the world with their beautiful open-minded hearts and their incredibly brilliant minds, especially the upcoming teenagers and young adults in their early twenties. They feel that there is no point in even trying because the current political and cultural environment is so against them. I would be lying if I claimed that what you see as extreme hostility towards change was not at a peak right now. You are right. They do not want to change again, but you are right, it is time for another change and you are the ones to help bring it. Do not be afraid of the backlash. Stand tall and do what you know in your heart is right and just for all, not just what benefits a chosen few. You know that ignorance can no longer rule the people. You know that blind obedience is no longer a viable option.

To you I say, meet me in the eye of the storm and together we will steer this mess in another direction. Jump into the storm. Do not stand on the sidelines too lazy and scared to do anything about all of the ugliness going on around you. Jump into the storm. Swim and fight your way to the center of the vortex. There we will sit together in the quiet and find the solutions. Until we embrace the eye of the storm and really see what is at the root of humanity’s hatred of each other, we will never find a long-term solution that creates real peace and equality for everyone. We need to heal our planet, our bodies, and the spiritual hearts of our species.

People say that the signs are all here and Armageddon has begun. Why save the planet if the savior is coming to take the good and holy people away to a better place? Since we are not going to be here much longer, we may as well fry it on our way out. The current administration behaves as though there won’t be any future generations left behind to clean up after them. How selfish to assume that your god will come carry you off to heaven, therefore you do not have to care for the people and planet that are going to be left in the wake of your final choices. Who is to say that is not the ultimate test of who stays and who gets to ascend to a better place? If you had to pick and choose who were truly worthy of burning in hell or going to heaven, would you pick the folks who were killing and raging war in the name of God or would you pick the people who were crying out for love, equality, and to save the planet?

I stand here in the eye of the storm, turmoil and war all around me, my heart quiet and strong. The vision is very clear here. I will do my part to save the planet for the sake of those left behind. It is not for me to say who should or should not prevail. Someone will be left standing here on this planet, with this atmosphere, with this water, with this soil. For them, I say let’s create a plan so that they have the best possible chance of rebuilding a new world. For love of this place with its beaches, mountains, and forests that I love so much, I will hold the love of Mother Nature in my heart. You know, if the savior comes to haul all the good guys off to a better place, I think I will volunteer to stay behind to help make this battered planet a place of beauty once more. When you are done with your religious wars and your ascensions into heaven, give the planet back to those of us who care for her and please do not come back. Embrace the eye of the storm, for the vision is very clear here.

Copyright 2005, Skye Thomas, Tomorrow’s Edge

Skye Thomas is the CEO of Tomorrow’s Edge, an Internet leader in inspiring leaps of faith. Her books, articles, newsletters, and astrological forecasts have inspired people of all ages and faiths to recommit themselves to the pursuit of happiness. To read more of her articles, free previews of her books, and her astrology forecasts, go to www.TomorrowsEdge.net. To read more about Skye and to sign up to receive her free newsletters, go to www.SkyeThomas.com.

Freedom of Religion

We were all taught in school that our forefathers left England to escape religious dictatorships. Okay, there was a lot more to it then that, but it was a big enough deal that they made sure it got honorable mention in our rulebook. They clearly made the point that we were to have freedom of religion here in America. They also used the word “God” in some of their formal paperwork and even on our money. I do not want to argue politics here, but rather semantics. They did not say “freedom of Christianity,” they said “freedom of religion.” The boys who wrote up all of our formal paperwork were wordsmiths and they debated long and hard to find the perfect set of words to govern ourselves by. It was not decided that we had the freedom to choose whichever form of Christianity that we liked, but whichever form of religion. Religion is in and of itself a much broader concept then Christianity. “God” can mean a lot more then just the Christian definition too.

No, I do not agree with all the bickering and arguing over whether or not there should be prayers in school or if the Pledge of Allegiance is constitutional. You cannot stop someone from praying whenever or wherever they choose. Nor can you force a prayer out of someone either. It is a dumb thing to argue about and not worth being offended over either way. I think it is important to teach out children what our country’s Pledge of Allegiance is, but I do not know that it is right to force anyone to state a pledge, especially children. It seems a bit dictator-like and kind of like brainwashing to me. Teach them what it means. Teach them what prayer means. Teach them what making a pledge of any kind means whether it is a pledge of ones allegiance to their country’s flag, a pledge of fidelity to a spouse, or a pledge of loyalty to a boss. But also teach them that in this country we have the freedom to make pledges or not. Teach them that in this country we have the freedom to pray to whoever or whatever we like and the freedom not to pray. Teach them just how important that freedom is.

I am saddened when I hear of Pagans being persecuted for their spiritual beliefs in this country. Did the Sunday school teachers forget to mention that using the colors green and red for Christmas is Pagan? Did they mention that Christmas lights, Yule logs, and wreaths are all Pagan? Did they mention that almost every single Christian holiday is celebrated ironically on top of a Pagan festival? Why do you think we have bunnies, baby chicks, and pretty flowers as part of our Easter celebration? Because it coincides with the Pagans' celebrations of Spring’s renewal. From what I can see, Pagans are not all evil ugly witches anymore than all Christians are white supremacists.

I do not have a deep knowledge of all of the different religions of the world, but I can tell you that it does not take much research to see that they are all very much the same. Get past which church uses which secret handshake and which rule book you should follow, and you find that they’re all teaching us to respect each other, to love each other, to conduct yourself with honor, and to be good to the planet and animals that we are blessed with. The rest is all dogma and debatable. Nobody has any real concrete proof that their particular form of God is the only one. Who’s to say that God or Jesus is not wise enough to visit more than once using different names and different forms? Wouldn’t it make sense given the size of the planet that the rest of the world would need to be given a fair chance at knowing about God too? Is Buddha so very different from Jesus? Their teachings are incredibly similar. Why limit God to a concept that only fits what your particular culture or region of the world knows about?

Another thing that always puzzled me is why prophets and seers are allowed to channel holy books and tell of the Messiah’s coming, but then we’re told by the churches that being psychic is demonic? It seems a bit contradictory to me. Every psychic I have ever met lost power over their visions if they were not acting in the highest good. Most of the psychics I have met believe very deeply in a form of God or some sort of a higher magical loving guidance over us. Their visions into the other side created that belief. There is nothing quite like chatting with the All Mighty to make a believer out of you. Isn’t prayer in and of itself a form of telepathic psychic connection with the other side?

It just seems to me that if we quit arguing over what words, labels, and names we give these concepts and quit arguing over methods of prayer and such that we would see that we are all so much more alike then we are different. I have known three different Catholic men who fell in love with the Buddhist faith because it so beautifully highlights the teachings of Christ. I really believe that is what we are meant to do. All of the holy books tell us to love one another. You cannot truly love someone if you do not take the time to really get to know them and what they stand for. Shouldn’t we learn about each other from a place of love rather than from a place of judgment? Nobody can prove that anyone else’s religion is wrong and nobody can prove that theirs is right. Too many translators over the course of history to be able to be 100% sure about anything any more. We cannot really assume that the others are completely wrong and we cannot assume that our own religion is completely right. Religion and God is so much more than we can fully understand at this time.

Copyright 2004, Skye Thomas, Tomorrow’s Edge

Skye Thomas is the CEO of Tomorrow’s Edge, an Internet leader in inspiring leaps of faith. Her books, articles, newsletters, and astrological forecasts have inspired people of all ages and faiths to recommit themselves to the pursuit of happiness. To read more of her articles, free previews of her books, and her astrology forecasts, go to www.TomorrowsEdge.net. To read more about Skye and to sign up to receive her free newsletters, go to www.SkyeThomas.com.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Care Packages For Troops: New Contacts and Wish Lists!

23 Oct 07
Subject: Pagan Troop Supplies
Contact: Laura M. Roberts, President, Pagans United

Pagans United will be sponsoring the following Pagan Groups in Afghanistan and Iraq until further notice. I will be keeping all you apprised of what is needed and when. For now this is a basic list....many of these groups have nothing and no way to get them. So please, even if tis just a card or letter send what you can.

I will be in contact with the following contact people personally to find out what items they really need. Remember with the colder weather and holidays, items like cider, flavored coffees and such are appreciated. Other non pagan items always appreciated. Big item...FOOT POWDER...make sure tis the kind with Styric Acid in the ingredients otherwise they just get goop in the boot. LOL. Snacks, toiletries, soups, teas, magazines, books are all highly appreciated items.

Blessed Be,
Laura & Keith Roberts, Pagans United

Contact: Marcus Rice
HHC 2-69 AR (S-6)
FOB Rustamivah
APO AE 09390

*****Also, various stones and books on stones and stone magick. Need candles in all of the element colors.

Contact: Shawn Lunsford
APO AE 09351

(All supplies for a beginning group)

Afghanistan Contact
Contact: Christina Wittenberg
23rd CHEM BN
APO AE 09314

(New Group needs all supplies and help - currently 7 people)

Afghanistan Contact
Contact David Horton
HHC 82nd CAB
Bagram Air Field
APO AE 09354

(All Supplies)

Contact: TSgt Vincent, Richard
Kirkush Military Training Base
APO AE 09324

This is a new group and they are in need of candles 4" for personal use and larger for main ritual use; all colors) and incense (cone and stick for personal, resin for ritual)

SGT Keith Roberts
Unit 42-167
Camp Victory Iraq
AE 09342

Frederick Twombly
HHC, 3rd Sig Bde
APO, AE 09342

Pagans United Official Statement

From: Pagans United
Subject: "South Carolina Witch Hunts" (Rhonda/Steve Grouper) Date: October 26, 2007
Contact: Laura Robert (laura@pagansunited.com)

While Pagans United works diligently to protect the rights and good standing of Pagan Americans, at this time we do not feel that any efforts on our behalf are warranted in the case of Rhonda and Steve Grouper in Little River, South Carolina. We base this decision on the evidence and information that Pagans United has received from multiple sources. We have evaluated and investigated all evidence and believe that this case is not one of religious discrimination, but is based on actual concerns raised by officials involved in the case.

Should we receive further evidence, we will continue to investigate. At this time, however, we stand by our previous decision to not become involved and encourage the Pagan community to research and investigate prior to claiming discrimination in any and all cases. To call discrimination where none exists does nothing for bringing the Pagan family of faiths into the mainstreams. Indeed, it sets us all back in that mission and makes the work of everyone infinitely harder.

It should further be noted that there is a vast difference between discrimination and ignorance. When met with the latter, education is always the best response and should always be the first line of defense. Educational materials can be found on the Pagans United website or by contacting a Pagans United Board Member and are free for distribution to the Pagan community and general public.

Pagans United members will continue to investigate all claims sent their way by community members. However, it must be noted that Pagans United stands firm in our belief that our good name and reliable reputation not be associated with any case in which we cannot say with absolutely certainty that we feel discrimination has occurred.


A Few Words from the Founder

I began this group three years ago simply because I was tired of watching my Pagan Brothers and Sisters constantly being discriminated against simply because of their religious preferences. I was completely fed up with the way the Media portrayed us...all negative, of course. For the longest time I sat and complained, however, seeing that it was getting me absolutely no where I chose to make a stand. A very public stand. Yes, when I decide on action I usually jump in with both feet and hit the ground running. So here we are today.

I've always been a firm believer in the old adage "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" and that it only takes one person to get the ball rolling and make a difference. I decided to be that squeaky wheel and luckily I was fortunate enough to find a handful of others that wished to aid me in this endeavor. Many are still with me today 3 years later.

It is vital that we stand together as one in the Pagan Community, putting aside our differences, and take a stand against those that wish to take away our rights to worship freely. A right, I might add, that this nation was founded on. It's important to do what we can to educate the public and the media with the facts regarding our Paths. No one in this day and age of supposed enlightenment should be fearful to admit their religion or hide away all that resonates in their very souls. I have been on this path for a very very long time and one thing I can tell you is that there are many paths up the mountain...no one path is more important or correct than the other....simply different.

Another issue that pulls at me strongly is our stewardship of Mother Earth. As my husband is so fond of saying, it is vital for us as Pagan Americans to "walk our talk" and take our stewardship of Mother Earth seriously. Our natural resources are dwindling faster than we ever imagined. Many of our animals are on the verge of extinction, there are drastic changes in our weather patterns due to global warming that are creating havoc everywhere. The list goes on and on. We are at a point that we must do something and do it fast before there is no turning back.

The point is that there is something each and everyone of us can do. For those of you fearful of "coming out of the broom closet", you don't have to. There are many things you can do in your everyday lives. (i.e. recycling, volunteering at an animal shelter, etc.) You can write letters whatever...but the point is do something. There are those like me who don't mind being out front so it all balances out. My advise to you is "just do it".

So here I am today, 3 years later. I remember being dissuaded by many in the beginning with people telling me "herding Pagans is like herding cats", "That one person couldn't make a difference", "that you are endangering other Pagans by asking them to be as public as you are." The reasons why I shouldn't do this were numerous. However, that only served to make me more determined then ever. Looking back, there were bad times, but none of that could ever outshine the good times and the things we have been able to accomplish.

Many have come and many have gone...many are still standing with me today. We've become not only a group working for change, but a family. We are closely bonded by our cause and belief;, bonds that will last us a lifetime. We share each others joys, sorrows, and there is always a shoulder to lean on when its needed. We are all family and as family tis time to put aside the differences between us and work together and MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the world we share. I hope you'll join us. I can promise you rewards and personal satisfaction beyond your wildest dreams.

Blessed Be,