Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sex, Magik, and the Goth Life

Merry Meet

This is probably the most sensitive subject to discuss as a practitioner of the Craft. Witches have for years been accused of practically anything and everything and one of the things they are accused of is immorality and sexual deviance. There simply is no evidence of sexual immorality, even among my Pagan and Wiccan colleagues. That having been said, I want to discuss the Great Rite.

The Great Rite is the joining of the priest and priestess of a coven of Wiccan/Pagan practitioners. This can be either a symbolic union or it is an actual act. In The Witches' Bible by the Farrars, the Great Rite can be accomplished by the priest and priestess by drawing the athame (which is male energy) into the chalice (which is female energy) joining the powers of both great opposites and charging the ritual with that conjoined energy. If it is enacted physically, the priest and priestess are generally alone and takes place in the sacred space while the rest of the coven wait outside of the sacred space for the conclusion. In most cases, and this is suggested by the Farrars, the couple is in a loving and stable marriage and or other committed relationship. Usually the priest and priestess are a couple anyway, or at the very least a loving partnership from which they run the coven. It does not break down into an orgy and there are no minors involved. If you are a young person joining a coven and the priest or priestess says that you must have sex, get away from them. Wicca does not believe in forcing anyone to do anything that is against their convitions. The same with Pagans.

So, do Christian witches have the Great Rite? Perhaps, but this is a personal matter for practitioners. How about solitaries? The symbolic reactment can suffice, I suppose, but I see no need in it. I am a celibate. I have made a vow of celibacy and have dedicated myself to the service of God and the study of the Craft and developing my practice to reflect my devotion. Some witches from many different disciplines take temporary or permanent vows of celibacy. This form of self dedication is very important and should not be taken lightly.

This dynamic grouping of differing disciplines reflects the differing social groups in our world. One of those social groups in the world today is Goth. The Goth Life is often mixed up with the Victorian spiritualist movement. The Goth movement is an off branch of the 1950's beatnick movement. The Beats believed that the world was shrouded in delusion and they fostered a mix of truthtelling and cynicism. They went against the grain of society and sought to expose truths about the "Leave it to Beaver" "Ozzie and Harriet" world that society and popular media wanted to sell us. They did not believe in phony optimism and dressed, spoke and behaved in a way that ran at odds with what their families thought were "normal". Today's Goth movement seeks to do the same but while the Beats desired to wake up the generation and get them to change, I am sorry to say that the Goths seem to thrive in a sort of unrelenting gloominess and belief that there is no hope for themselves or society. They are socially depressed and often emotionally as well. They also get to rebell. They wear black and dye their hair black, they wear clothes that harken back to the days of the Victorian spiritualist and they have rather romantic views about the desperate lives they are living. They think death is a wonderful release and the only truth.

I think too, that the Goth movement tends to wallow in a sort of perpetual pity party. Life is grim on the whole but for the individual, life can be pretty good and it can be as rich and fulfilling as you want. Nothing can stop you from believing in yourself. Goths also have a reputation for dabbling in the occult. They should be careful. The supernatural is nothing to play with and dabbling is always dangerous.

And it was not my intention to be rude, I just think it needed to be said as plainly as possible. Finding something positive to believe in is important, it doesn't have to be church, or God, or the Craft, or anything else. It can be just about yourself and your potential, and no one elses.

Next time I will discuss building an altar and prayer and meditation in depth.

Blessed Be,

Aslinn Dhan.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Rights and Responsibilities and the Idea of Sin

Merry Meet,

I am reading a really good book called The Element of Ritual and I have to say that it's really good. I have read a lot of books that tell you about what you can do in the Craft but this book also explains things about the resposibilities of the Craft, which I think is very important. It is written for the Wiccan in mind but it does give very good practical thoughts about anyone practicing the Craft.

One of the things I often hear is that witches or Wiccans can do anything so long as they follow the rede and I would agree with that but does that mean there is no sense of sin in the traditional sense. Not at all. The rede functions as our basic outline of the rules of practice. It tells us to think carefully when we cast and think about what the outcomes might be and whether it will harm anyone, even yourself. If you are declaring yourself a witch and you are hurting people with it, then you are not following the rede and you are not a true disciple of the Craft. As witches, we are to do all things for the good of the earth and the health and welfare of our fellows on this earth.

When you prepare to work for someone or for yourself, you should examine your conscience: Have I hurt anyone today in thought, word or deed? have I hurt myself? have I poluted the earth needlessly? (there simply is very little you can do about your car exhaust until they come up with a reasonable alternative, but have you littered? Have you needlessly killed a living creature? have you wasted a natural resource?) If you have done any of those things, you must make an atonement. You must pray to your God, by what ever name you call them and you must try to correct your misdeed by apologizing or by cleaning up your mess or seeking counsel from a professional or an elder of your faith. If you are unable to make a personal apology, then you must do some good in that person's name or do some anonymous good with that person in mind if you don't know them. Simply praying or seeking absolution through some sacrament or rite is not enough. You must act as well.

The second thing you must do is take a ritual bath or perform some other sort of physical act of cleansing. This should be a part of regular practice anyway before you do any work or ritual. You certainly wouldn't go to your church or a sabat dirty and dressed in dirty clothes. You would want to present yourself to God, by whatever name you call them, with high respect to them and yourself. Meditation is important too. If you aren't doing some form of meditation, then you may well be dashing off a lot of spells and rituals that have very limited powers and do very little. And remember, eveything you do comes back to you three fold, so don't be lazy and indifferent and don't be careless. You want all good things to come back to you. If you aren't meditating now, start a regiment of meditation and this can be 10 minutes or it can be longer.

To Meditate, you should be comfortable but not so comfortable that you fall asleep. Sitting up in high back chair with your feet on the floor is best. Unless you are practicing yoga and are adept, don't worry about getting into the lotus position either. You should designate a focal point for yourself, either a candle, a picture or a statue. Breathe in through your nose and out of your mouth. Visualize a nice place, a spirit guide, your guardian angel and have discussions with them in your mind. Be careful of using visualizations of the dead and if they ask you to do something that is uncharacteristic of them turn away from them and visualize yourself coming out of meditation. Some people who meditate use a sacred sound like o-m (This is part of a Buddhist mantra. My late husband and practicing Buddhist always taught me not say the word om because you should not contaminate the listener with the sound of the mantra in your voice. When you see groups of monks chanting the mantra together, they do so after they have perfected their ability to withdraw and hear the sounds of their own unique voice, not the voices of their fellows.)

Drugs and the Craft do not mix. That include so called natural narcotics like marijuana or hashish or opium or shrooms. Our native brothers and sisters pratice a form of the Craft that uses marijuana and shrooms in their religious work and these are handled only by the Shamans or priests of the faith. And though the practitioners of the Craft use wine, they warn against using too much. And witches do not use absinthe. Sorry all of you Goths who dabble in the occult and the Craft....absinthe is a no-no. So if you are using the Craft to get your buzz on, you are going against the Craft. Harm none includes harming yourself. And any coven who asks or demands that you use drugs and alcohol in their rituals are the sort you should keep clear of. Responsible covens provide alternatives to wine, substituting cider, fruit juice or even non-alcoholic ginger beer in their rituals or workings. And they would never serve the underage.

Next time I write, I will discuss sex magik, celibacy and more in depth on the Gothic life.

Blessed Be,
Aslinn Dhan

Friday, December 09, 2005

Magical Terms

Merry Meet

Just as in any type of specialized learning, the Craft has special terminology. As you read your books and web sites, you may have seen terms like deosil, widdershins and sky clad. Hopefully your books and sites have explained them. If not, here are some terms that you should become familiar with.

Besom- this is the Saxon word for broom. Not all witches use brooms in their rituals and that is sad. I think it is because many witches get tired of having to explain to their non-witch counterparts that they do not fly brooms. They are an extention of the staff or rod used by many witches, along with their wands. In the old days of the Craft, the broom also represented the hearth, whene many witches practiced the Craft at home in the kitchen. As I mentioned earlier, the broom was also a woman's weapon. While her husband might have a sword or staff or pitchfork, the woman could use her broom. The stories of the witch using her broom as a means of transportation come primarily from the confessions of condemned witches during the burning times. They often swore in their confessions that they flew their brooms(or the family goat) to coven sabats and there they worshipped the devil and sacrificed children to the devil and had sex with the devil. They swore these confessions after torture and usually just agreed with whatever the inquisitor asked them. Because the early inquisitors believed that all witches were Satanists, they were practicing rites that blasphemed the Mass and the Church and many of these charges are just the twisting of Christian practice.

Sabat- this a witches' holy day. There are eight Sabats: Samhain, Beltaine, Lammas, and Imbolc
and then there are Mabon, Yule, Ostara, and Litha. Not surprisingly, these holidays correspond with the Christian holidays. I usually practice my Craft holidays a few days before the Christian holidays (many of them happen that way anyway) and I put a Christian slant on them because I am a Christian Witch. Some of my Pagan and Wiccan brothers and sisters might disagree with me, but that is okay.

Esbat- are days of the full moon or new moon when witches do their workings. Spell casting is at its most powerful at the full or the new moon. That doesn't mean that these are the only times you can work a spell, it just means that these are the strongest days. These are the days when herbs are at their most potent and when your body is attune to the workings of nature. Blue moons are very auspicious and witches take special advantage of a blue moon.

Blue Moon- When a month has a second full moon. This happens when the full moon rises at the beginning of a month, has a new moon in the middle and a second full moon in the end of the month. Special requests should be made during this time.

Deosil- whether stirring a potion, casting a circle, drawing a pentagram, or calling the corners, all are done in certain order in a certain direction. The clockwise motion is deosil.

Widdershins- counterclockwise movement

Skyclad- this is working in the nude. Many of my Pagan and Wiccan brothers and sisters work skyclad, particularly if they can work outside without interuption (or breaking local laws) and if the weather is with them. I don't work skyclad and any coven who forces their members to work that way is trouble. There are no rules in any witchcraft discipline what require going skyclad. Even Gardner, the father of modern witchcraft, says this.

As I come upon strange or unfamilar phrases or words, I will add them to the list. If anyone has a word they don't understand, contact me and I will be happy to find it out.

Blessed Be

Aslinn Dhan