This Blog has become a forum for a number of serious Pagan women to post and create. Our object is to provide a voice.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Things That Seperate US by Laurie Zanardelli

I know that most of us have all been there, that time when a close relative decides that scorning the path you've chosen for yourself is what they think will 'shame' you to come back to that alleged 'true' religion.

I've been through this scenario with my brother for years. He still refuses to accept that I am a Witch, and constantly insists that I'm not serious, and will come to my senses.

Therefore, it's not surprising that we do not talk very much any more. Granted, we do now and again, but only to discuss family his kids are doing, just general things that skitter around the big issue that divides us.

It's depressing for me, as he wants to know nothing of how I came to my decision to be a Witch, what I believe, or anything remotely connected with it. Initially I tried to give him an idea, but that was quickly brushed off and the subject changed. He is so staunch in his Lutheranism that he can't see beyond Martin Luther's thesis'.

I dislike the division, it separates us as siblings and I know my mother would not have wanted this. She would have been a buffer sorely needed, but a buffer that is no longer here to smooth the ragged edges of our relationship.

My mom was a beautiful woman, so full of love and life. I know the Goddess smiled on her. I also know that my mother would have accepted me for what I have chosen to be, something my brother never will.

So, how does one deal with a close relative that can not and will not open themselves up enough to even try to understand? I don't know anymore. The relationship we had as siblings when we were younger is no more. I mourn it's loss, though I know that somewhere in this there is a lesson that must be learned.

I think I'm halfway to understanding it, but by no means am I all the way there.'

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

“Circle” by Jackie B. Steele

To the Eastern Sky & the Sun’s light rise
Sisters with Red/Yellow corn silk hair.
The Lady of the Lake, holds out for us to take
A sword or arrow of reason,
“Be true to your word and let it be heard”
While the pipe players make smoke & song
Of Air upon Air
Our Daughters dance in the jingle dress
Upon these winds, Spring fertility begins.

As we Face the South
& the Fire of Summer’s growth
Many Sisters standing proudly there
Oh Sisters, With Black Tree Root hair
They give Tree staffs for us to hold
To tap the Fire of Courage and Earth,
To warriors now grown, they’ll give lance or bow
To bravely call on their honor.
We are tapping the Earth & Singing her Fire.

To the West we now face
Full Moon sets in Autumns Grace.
Maidens now Mothers, with dark hair grown quite long
A Cup she gives out, kindred of her womb
To catch the Waters of body, soul & Sky
Giving birth to a balance
Of Honor and humility
& warriors a place to cry.
Waters for the lands, the rains dance
And a Mother weeps with love.
A sacred Grail indeed

The North Crone waits
Near Winters gate
With glowing Silver White hair
The lines in her face hold
All the stories we’ve told
About life, fair or unfair
She holds up a shining reflective shield
For all that we sought, the battles we fought,
The Adventures we’ve danced and held dear
She whispers on the North Winds,
“Balance the Drama with Mirth”
“Give this Joy to the Earth”
& she laughs a hearty laugh.
She gives us the shining shield
A simple Mirror she did yield
“The Great Mystery has Always been within”
She smiles and walks softly away, on Death’s Snow
Pushing a baby’s carriage towards Spring.

Prose & Photo: Jackie B. Steele

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Militant Word or Two by Barbara Carvallo

People who know me, follow my blogs or my writing on Facebook have undoubtedly realized that I am not a glass-half-full person.  In addition, where my faith is concerned I am militantly outspoken.  Two things in particular limit my optimism and drive my anger.  The first is the grotesque misrepresentation of the Craft by those who claim to be committed to its principles.  The second is the arrogance of some in this country who would insist that refusal to submit to the tenets of their religion is in and of itself persecution.  These two things are not as wholly unrelated as they might seem.  To the extent that the Witchcraft is made to look one dimensional or foolish by devotees,  those that purport to follow the only “true and legitimate faith” in this country, indeed the faith on which its principles are supposedly based, are not seen to be engaged in persecution when they ridicule, scapegoat and demonize us.  

I am not fond of overly glamorized, stylized or sexualized pictures of Witches.  We aren't all traditionally beautiful, young, thin, nymphs who are big of tit and light of heart.  We don't all wear Victoria Secret push up bras and dresses split up the side to the hip, particularly when doing serious work at midnight during Dark of the Moon and outdoors in eight degree Colorado weather. 

This image is spectacularly odious to women who have become Crone.  When through ignorance or vanity the Queen of The Witches is robbed of the abiding fearlessness of age, wisdom and serenity which She represents to so many, She becomes a cheap, slick and sleazy caricature of what She means to those of us who follow Her in seriousness and reverence.

This distortion is a discrediting of our belief that She is with all women at all times, inside, just ahead or next to us.  That there is a great and spiritually transcendent beauty, beyond the synthetic charm valued by a world of sham,  in aging and growing closer to Her who is a constant from the moment She guides our soul into our tiny bodies, kissing our lips with breath at birth, until the day She leads us across the bridge to the Summerland.  In the late afternoon of our lives She calls all women in love and genuine communion.  Some in vanity will turn their back on Her, running and hiding behind the modern magic potions of youth, the plastic surgeon and Botox.  Others will take Her hand and begin the most exciting and momentous journey they have ever known.  Those who will not have Her will live without Her, but seldom well.  Those who choose to walk their path with Her will know a growing consciousness and contentment till the end and beyond.  This is what the Great Crone has taught me. 

When I see flummery and marzipan offered to the world by way of an example of the Craft of the Wise, a substitute for the commitment, work and challenge of following the Goddess, I am saddened.  When I see my faith peddled to other women like perfume or body waxing as an easy path to sex, love, beauty and personal happiness, I grow angry because I know that we forfeit the credibility to say never again to the Burning Times.  We grow vulnerable to those who would use us to explain away the problems of a world they have corrupted.

We lose the right and cede the moral high ground to say to those who would control us and hide the Scared Feminine in the dark once again, “Shut up and walk your own path.  If you need a crowd to walk with you, if you require the unqualified compliance of those around you, you may be on the wrong path.”

We must be strong and seen to be strong in order to assert that faith cannot be legislated, mandated or force fed by any pseudo oligarchy, organized religion or mob.  It is a purely intrinsic and subjective value.  To the extent that it is given the force of law or made the norm by peer pressure born of group think it will breed an equal resentment and rage seething under the skin of the collective consciousness and growing with each successive generation. 

We must be clearly understood when we say, “The moral of the story is if you are engaged in shoving your religion down the throats of others, sleep with one eye open.”

Seeking "Without" by Cate Cavanagh

We all have "those" days. You know the ones. The days when we feel worn either by the events of the day nationally, globally or personally. Those are the days in which we may feel disconnected or even despairing due to worry for a loved one or during which we may feel we are missing our personal goals or even our personal marks.

These may be the days when we entertain the question "Why?" We may wonder what is the sense of our path and our lives and begin to examine or re-examine. We may fall prey to the trappings of nostalgia...wistfully longing for days past or grief as we remember those who have crossed before us.

In short we feel we have lost touch with Goddess in some way. This is not to say that we have lost faith or trust. It simply means, at least to me, that there are those days in which I fell alone. Days in which I feel I do not hear Her message within me or out of myself. Days in which the new cast of snow upon the trees or the gleeful dash of my dogs simply do no lighten my soul.

We all have days like this. We all have those moments where the joy is not there, hope is at a standstill or worry claims the day.  Well but, as Doreen Valiente's inspired work relays if we do not find what we need within, we will never find it without.

On these days I stop and remind myself of those wise words so that I can focus, talk to Her and ask Her to help me find a way to fill my inner reservoir of power and.  You know what? As always when I choose to remember to ask, I am answered find my power.





Thursday, January 17, 2013

Animal Medicine by Cate Cavanagh


On my journey to Goddess I traversed many paths. One of them was Native American spirituality. Being an animal lover I was drawn to this belief system and learned of the spiritual meanings of animals and the assistance they can offer on a spiritual level.

I have a deep love and reverence for animals as do my spiritual and magical brethren of many paths. Native Americans developed a unique perspective on what they called Animal Medicine. As an eclectic Witch I have incorporated this perspective into the working of my Craft. In my studies I have personally found that magic/spirituality is universal and that the main differences are in methodology so I found this perspective to be easily transferred over to my relationship with my Goddess.  Whether one chooses this approach or not is a personal decision but personally I have found great counsel in the messages of these very special emissaries over the years.

Animal Medicine is most commonly identified with totems. In Alaska, for example, there are huge poles with carvings of animals upon them. Wrongly called "animism" by sociologists who considered this animal worship of primitive cultures, Animal Medicine is no more primitive than Asian societies that have developed whole schools of self defense based on the study of animals and their behaviors.

In the realm of the spiritual, to connect with the powers of animals is no less revered than lighting a candle to or for an ancestor, as many cultures (including Buddhism) practice. Simply put, animal medicine is the belief that animals possess traits that are embodied within their spirits. As in the days of old, today's practitioner will observe animals and be open to that which the animal portends. The appearance of an animal helps us to be wary or aware of things to come, are guides to decision, action or contemplation and are often a source of true spiritual power given by the animal itself.

Native Americans were not the only people to observe nature and its patterns as well as those of animals. All tribal people from the Celts onward relied heavily on the signs within nature and animals. These enabled them to prepare for cold months and sowing for harvesting later in the year. It is no wonder that nature and animals became such an integral part of tribal and nomadic societies and their survival.

I did not always live in the country but, even in the country where wildlife can be so abundant, the message of the animal people are of no less significance. Although I may hear a hoot owl every morning, to see one would enable me to prepare for possible deception and in so doing, keep my own counsel for the time being in all matters. We have a wonderful array of birds, especially cardinals and hummingbirds. These have always been among my favorite birds so I feel blessed to have them on our property. Good medicine, as Native Americans would say. We have streams and a pond and have always had frogs, toads and salamanders but this year our pond is rich with a huge population of bullfrogs. This is excellent medicine for cleansing. You see frogs call in the rain and the rain, from Creator, itself is cleansing for the soul. After a long, despairing winter of grief following the loss of my mother, these frogs and the rain they bring are cleansing to my grief and purifying me to move forward. Such is frog medicine.

To walk a path of Animal Medicine is to follow a path of total regard for all animal people, for that is what Native Americans call animals, rocks, trees and plants- people. They call them thus because within each is the spirit power breathed into them all by Creator. During the hot weather, I am always on the look out for the stray frog or salamander that may have wandered too far from the stream or pond bed. When I find them, I pick them up and bring them closer to a water source. My daughter and I rescue earthworms! After a storm when they are high-grounded and may die as the sun comes up, we rescue them as well for all is a circle and all life is to be revered. Some days, I am very busy! Of course, we feed the birds, deer and hummingbirds. Next year, I plan to grow a vegetable garden and if some hungry animal comes a munching, let it. It could be a new totem animal and if so, I must feed its spirit.

As a writer, I have special reverence for spiders. You see spiders represent creation and creativity so when I see spiders, I welcome them. In our house, no insect is killed. Spiders are brought outside and even bats (that have gotten in from time to time) are gently caught and set free outside. Once, a visiting aunt saw an ant. Before she could step on it, I shouted, "No!" Don't kill it!" She asked why. I told her they come every year to bring me a message and if one is killed, they will over run my house completely. You see, the ant represents industry, endurance and strength. Those who know me very well know that these traits apply to me. I am a Taurus so you can imagine what this bull can do! But, my friends the ants come around every spring to reassess my efforts. When they begin to come around, they are reminding me to look at my industry. Have I been doing too much (again) as I am prone to do. Have I been paying enough attention to my creative work and if not, get back to it no matter what. This spring, for example, in order for me to meet industry goals my ants were reminding me about I had to begin getting up at 4:30am. This was the only way to begin my day in meditation and prayer, to water my garden, do farming chores and to work on my writing. Once I began to do this, they went away (until next spring). By the way when they left, the books I had been working were accepted by a publisher and will be published this year. So, they also tell me if I will reap the fruits of my labors.

Many animals are obvious in the messages they bring. Butterflies represent transformation. Snakes also represent transformation but, because they also represent renewal, they are also the medicine of healers. When my daughter's snake sheds, she always brings me the skin. I know how to use the snakeskin to tap into the healing powers of the snake and use it successfully in liniments, spiritual baths for the sick and in candle magic. I remember my mom tying snakeskin around her neck as she did chores around the house. She said it helped her arthritis.

This year, beetles are around me. It has been a few years since I last saw them. Although also an insect of transformation, because of the many stages to adulthood, the beetle asks where are you in the process of change itself? Do you need to undergo change? Do you need to renew a part of your life such as going back to something you used to do when you were younger? Do you, on the other hand, need to leave the past behind in order to transform and move forward? In my case, it is the latter. As part of my grieving process this last year, I kept revisiting the past. This is common but my old friend the beetle is telling me to push past that for the past cannot be undone and only the new can transform.

What is odd about the beetles this time around is that they are showing up dead. Shamanism is not just for the spirit realm of people; it is also for the spirit realm of animals. When an animal dies within your proximity, it is a sacrifice the animal made to impart its special power. In this case, it is the power to transform, regenerate and in so doing, move forward. As I see these dead beetles on my porch and even in my house, I thank them for the medicine they have given me and, in so doing, empower them more in animal heaven. Once I found a dead cardinal on my lawn. Cardinals are as ferocious as they are beautiful and I knew this cardinal was giving me the skills for what was to come. When birds die, one must pull the tail feathers or they become earthbound, unable to fly to Creator. When I found this cardinal, I pulled the tail feathers which I kept for medicine work. By using these feathers, the spirit of the cardinal is strengthened in animal heaven and its sacrifice is not wasted. I did a special ceremony with sage, tobacco and cornmeal to commemorate this cardinal's sacrifice on my behalf. In the years that followed, I came to understand what I had been prepared for-death. I lost so many people, one after another, in a short period of time I was in an emotional and mental tailspin. Cardinal had given me what I would need: ferocity of spirit to survive my grief. One never knows why an animal gives a gift. Often, it is only with time that such things become clear and that is where one's truth comes in. It is also truth that you do not have to live in the country like I do to travel the path of animal medicine.

My path began in Brooklyn, New York for example. Here I was, in the middle of the city when the animals first called me spiritually. It was through meditation that I began to commune with the spirit of animals. I was able to achieve such a deep state of meditation that my spirit actually traveled astrally and swam with dolphins. It was truly amazing. I made it a point of walking through parks as often as I could. There was no animal, no matter how "common" with whom I did not commune.
Everyone has animal totems. The easiest way to begin to guess at what they are is to look at the animals with whom you have an affinity, often from childhood. There are totems that come and go, based on need and based on lessons to be learned. There are totems for life, totems that rule your dreamtime and guide you on your life path.

As for the sociologists that call this animal worship of a primitive nature I say keep your narrow-mindedness-the truest form of primitive thought.

For further study, read "Animal Speak" by Ted Andrews





Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Do You See What You Look At? by Laurie Zanardelli

While my husband was leaving for work a bit ago, I just paused on my way inside to look at the stars. It was cold and clear, the kind of clear that you usually get in the winter, and was amazed again by the beauty that is all around us that so many are too busy to see. I thought of the kestrel that I'd seen on the stump in the back earlier today, keenly surveying the yard for his next meal. The rabbit nibbling on the vestiges of greenery near the base of one of the oak trees. The squirrels, realizing that their brief January thaw is coming to an end, and instead of chasing each other throughout the yard from tree to tree, returned to the necessary search for acorns in the dormant grass. The plaintive call of the blue jay, the knocking of the woodpeckers, and the cheerful chirping of the chickadee, all remind me that though it is winter still, Mother Earth is stirring.

I wonder at those that cannot or will not see these things. How can so many be so blind to all that is in this world? The other day I was at the grocery store, and flying over the parking lot was a beautiful bald eagle. As I looked around at the other people in the parking lot, I came to the realization that none of them saw this beautiful creature. They were so intent on Goddess knows what, that they couldn't take time to really 'see'.

Knowing this makes me feel a bit sad. So many things in this world would be so much easier to solve if we'd all just stop and look. I mean really look. There are answers there, we just need to see them.

Friday, January 11, 2013

As I See It

There are many groups of Pagans – Wiccans, Druids, Witches and others.  Most people think that all Witches are Wiccans.  We are not.  I am a Witch who follows the ancient Celtic Tradition.   It is only within recent times that many of us have felt that we are able to openly profess our religion.  Anyone familiar with the history of the Craft will know the consequences of Witches, indeed any Pagans, openly following their path.  Some were put to the stake or murdered by other means.  Others paid lip service to the Catholic Church while continuing to practice the Old Ways in private.  Unless the Fundamentalist monsters in Congress take control of this country, we don’t ever expect to have to hide our faith again.  Pagans will never tolerate another mass persecution of our religion.

The Wicca was brought forward by a man named Gerald Gardener in England in the 50’s.  There are people who will tell you that Wicca is the true and only religion of the Witch.  That is nonsense.  Celtic women of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales were practicing the Old Religion before Gardener’s great, great, great, great, great grandparents were much more then sperm.  By the same token there are Witches who will tell you that Wiccans are cowards hiding from the name Witch.  I don’t believe that either. 

Wicca is a highly formalized and codified religion.  It is both beautiful and theologically significant. Because of their belief in dual divinity, that is to say the equality of the Goddess and the God, they often work with a high priestess and high priest in tandem, groups or covens and according to prescribed rituals.  They follow what is known as the Wiccan Rede which is based upon long held Pagan beliefs that I also hold.  For me the only relevant part of the Rede, as I was taught and understand these beliefs, is: abide in the Laws of the Goddess, in perfect love and perfect trust.  You must live and allow others to live.  You must neither take nor give unfairly.  You must honor the rule of three, for bad and good return to the sender three fold.  These words will the honor of Goddess fulfill – and you harm none do what you will.

As a practitioner of the Old Faith and disciple of the Sacred Feminine I agree with the Wiccan liturgy to this extent.  The rule of three has always been understood to be a prime moral directive; whatever you do in the world will return to you three times. The final eight words – and you harm none do what you will - is acceptable to me with this caveat, I reserve the right of self defense.  

Having said all of this, I differ from the Wiccans with regard to the necessity of formalized ritual and the need for a high priestess and high priest.  I do not accept the concept of dual divinity.  The creation myth of my tradition holds that the Goddess is the universe and out of her womb was born all life including the first male principle of the God.  She is the prime mover of our existence.   She is the prime celestial presents of our heart.   

Much is made of our use and practice of magic – white magic, gray magic, black magic.  There is only one kind of magic.  The nature and quality of magic itself, understood by the uninitiated as the color, rests with the intent of the practitioner.   Magic is simply the energy of the Goddess given to us by Her grace and through Her teaching.  We use it in Her sight and by our intent to achieve a purpose

Most of us select a divination tool prior to our initiation.  Particularly Celtic Witches are very intent and focused upon developing what is called the sight.  Some call it the third eye.  It is a form of perspicacity – the ability to see on many planes at once.  All people have the potential; most people never develop the ability.  Some use candles, crystals, water and pendulums to name a few.   I use all of them but the tarot deck primarily. 

Many of us feel an inclination to focus on a specific use of our Craft.  I was called as a child to the care of the earth.  Gardening is for me a form of ritual and a deep, abiding part of my personal liturgy. 

Pagans are universal in their belief that no one stands between them and their personal revelation of the Goddess or God of their heart, intuition and inspiration.  This is my primary objection to the institutional use of codified ritual and high priestesses and priests.  It is perhaps human nature to want to gain control of the conduit through which we each perceive the Source for the purpose of exerting personal power.  This is also my objection to the over concentration on the influence of Gerald Gardener whom I believe was just another man trying to control the values and beliefs of woman and in effect dominate the Sacred Feminine. 

I do not speak for all Pagans.  I do not speak for all Witches.  I do not even speak for all the Witches I know.  This is just the wisdom that the Great Crone Hecate has given me.

I believe that the Goddess gives us each a different light to illuminate the path we selected before we were born.  All we can do is use that light and follow that path with the very best intent and the deepest faith.  


Blessed Be