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, 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

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