Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Experiencing Resistance: How to deal with rejection, even inside the Wiccan/Pagan Community

Merry Meet!

Every human organization has its down side and this is also true about the Craft. As a Christian Wicce, I have experienced many different problems with other disciplines who close their door and knowledge to me because I am a Christian Crafter. Because of this, I have always looked at any human organized group with a sort of healthy skepticism. I have a feeling this is why I love and cherish my solitary practice.

Just as I have experienced resistance and prejudice for my Catholicism, so have I experienced problems with some members of the Crafting community. While I don't take it personally, because I know there are some Crafters who look down on solitaries and gay witches as well, I see this as a sad state of affairs because because there is so much we can learn from each other.

I remember I went to a Metaphysical Fair years ago in the central part of the state while I was in college. This was just when I was Craft curious and searching. I was having a wonderful time, buying celtic crafts and music and incense and candles and broomstick skirts and blouses. I was talking to a lady who was selling tarot decks and I was looking to buy an inexpensive set with a guide book. I bought them and started toward a booth that caught my eye. This lady was selling beautiful pewter cups, swords and athames and crystal balls.

Everything at her stand was very beautiful and somewhat expensive and beyond the Crystal Ball, I really hadn't a clue how one would use a chalice or an athame. The propriatress was a gothic Stevie Nicks type in a black corset tied with red silk ribbon and leather boots. She came over to the place where I was standing. I could feel her looking at my Celtic style Crucifix. I knew I was in trouble. I said hi.

"I'm Lady Midnight Gloomy Gus," (that was not her real name, I don't remember what she said her name was, but I am a big fan of Dickens, who gave his characters names that sort of described who they were.) "I belong to the celebrated Temple of the Insufferably Doomed. To what magikal tradition do you belong and what is your magikal name?" I was a bit taken aback, as you can imagine.

"I don't have a magikal name. I study with my friend, Celeste, over there," I answered, nodding my head toward Celeste, who was juggling wax candles to amuse a small group of kids while she taught them about spiritual concentration and balance. She was always good about a teachable moment.

"What discipline?" she asked. Now, Celeste had been the one to call me a Christian Witch or Wicce, so, I said : "Christian Witch," You know how you have just committed a faux pas and you know you have offended someone? This lady certainly had that look on her face. Sort of a face that I would recognize later as the look Malfoy gives Hermione just before he calls her a mudblood.

On the way home, as I fingered the holes of the wooden flute I had bought, I told my friend Celeste about the woman. She shook her head and rolled her eyes a bit as I told her about the single blemish on my day.

"Aslinn," she said, as she explained her take on this situation. "The Craft comunity is split into two groups. One group is very militant and very public and confrontational. They are primarily men and women who are angry and have come into the Wicca/Pagan religion as angry former Christians. They want to be the direct opposite of their families. The usual Lord and Lady of Darkness are the witches the newspapers and TV reporters want to interview. They dress like Dracula and Vampira 24/7/365. They tend to do what they claim to hate about Christianity, they hate anyone who is not like them," she said. "Then you have us. We're the hippy dippy witchies, the fluffy bunny witches. We are more tolerant but not any less passionate about our beliefs. But we acknowledge magik exists in all religions. We may look side ways at your pentacle and your cross and your Marian devotions but we also know that we can rely on you to help us with a magikal problem and you kow how to use most any herb. You are a part of what I call the universal coven and your Craft is just as important as anyone elses." she finished finally.

From then on I was never self conscious with my Craft and I offer no explanations or apologies. I always strive to be better as a person in and out of the realm of the Craft. I believe there will be hard times ahead and we will all be in trouble, regardless of what you believe in. Someday it will be against the law to practice any form of religion, whether you are Christian or Pagan, Wiccan or Jew, Muslim or Buddhist or a little mix of everything and we will all have to stand together with whatever magikal or spiritual tools we have and fight a monster that would have no God before him at all. Let us all be Brothers and Sisters, in and out of the Craft and may we all stand together.

And to all I say,

Bright Blessings Be

Aslinn Dhan Dragonhawk

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Update on Patrick Stewart

The federal branch of the Department of Veteran's Affairs has decided that it is up the the State Department of Veteran's Affairs to decide whether or not to honor Sgt Stewart with a Wiccan Star. So far the Nevada State DVA has made statements suggesting that this would rectified and Sgt Stewart would have the appropriate religious emblem placed on his memorial.

Three Cheers and a Blessed Be

I'll keep you posted...
Aslinn Dhan Dragonhawk

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

More Books for your Perusal

Merry Meet!

Hello, here are some additions to the book lists I have been posting for you. Of course, these books are just suggested reading but I encourage all of you whether you are just starting your magical education or are an experienced witch, these books can only enhance your knowledge and help you develop a wider range of knowledge. Remember, you can only grow through study and practice. If you are practicing without studying, you can get yourself into real trouble.

The first books I am going to tell you about this evening are a pair in a series. They are written by Ashleen O'Gaea and they are entitled Celebrating the Seasons of life: Samhain to Ostara and Celebrating the Seasons of life: Beltaine to Mabon . Both of these books are designed to help you understand where these holidays come from, the symbols used in the celebrations and even suggestions as to how to celebrate them and how develop your own rituals. They are both published by New Page Books and they were both $14.99.

The next book I want to suggest leans a little on the Christian side, but can still be useful to anyone and it is called The Magic Shield by Francis Melville. It is chock full of interesting anecdotes and it is very well illustrated with lovely old woodcut prints. It is a small book but is a bit pricey at $19.99 and is published by Barron's.

The next couple of books have loads of general info, but is very educational to read. The Giant Book of Magic by Cassandra Eason is an interesting book to read though it is a bit static to read and a little under organized. The section on Gypsy magic and lore was great. Published by Magpie Books in London. It was 4.95 on sale but was probably regularly priced at 12.00. Check your local Borders Books, they may have it discounted as well.

The next book was Witchcraft and Practical Magic by Susan Greenwood and Raje Airey. It is full of the history of magic and has all sorts of chapters on gems. metals, dreams, meditation, tools and the like. Fantastic book, very well illustrated, again, was on sale for 4.55 and published by Hermes House. Regular price 10.39.

A couple of good all purpose spell books is The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Spells and Magic edited by Nancy Bailey, is a small, very fun to read book full of arcana that really encourages the witch to understand old notions about spells and casting and how to write your spells and rituals. It is published by Sterling Publishers and sells for 9.95. The second book is The Spells Bible written by Ann-Marie Gallagher. She breaks down spells by season, by the optimal day and by purpose. Well organized little book, full of great information. Published by Walking Stick Press,
for 19.95

Here are a couple of books all witches should have. It is not because they are great books of magic, but because they are great books chronicling the Burning Times. Just as there are Jewish Scholars who study the Holocaust and have a copy of Mein Kampf on their shelves, so should witches have these books on their shelves. The first is The Malleus Malficarum by Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger at 14.95 and The Compendium Malficarum by Francesco Maria Guazzo at 11.95. Both books are published by Dover Publications. Get them, own them, read them and know them. They may save our Craft community someday.

The next book in my book shelf I recommend for you is Magic in the Middle Ages by Richard Kieckhefer. It is very good history, if a little scholarly, published by Cambridge University Press. I bought it used for 5.00 at a flea market but I think it would sell new for about 15.00. May be out of print so you may want try your local library or if you live near a college campus, browse the bookstore sale bins and library book sales.

I'll quit for now. Keep checking in for new book lists.

Bright Blessings Be

Aslinn Dhan Dragonhawk

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Warriors and Today's War and the Witchcrafter

Merry Meet!

Veteran's day has come and gone and we have had on our minds the present war in Iraq and past wars in the Gulf, Vietnam, Korea, in Japan, and Europe and America and those who are serving and have served in these wars and those who died in these conflicts. There are some differing views about whether it is ethical for a person who practices the Craft to be involved with war. I have no arguement with either side. I understand that not all wars are worthy wars, but I also accept that some of us, whether we are crafters or not, to prove themselves on the field of battle.

Crafters who go into the military believe they fulfilling an act of soldiery, to become warriors of the craft and fulfill their spiritual and physical training through a contest of the wills to do so and earn the degree of warrior priest of the various Craft, Wiccan, or Pagan discplines. It does hurt my heart, however when I hear Wiccans say that they are wrong to desire the chance to be warriors and do what they feel is right. After all, if it were not the will of the fates, or God or gods and goddesses of that warrior's faith system, then they would not be allowed to do so.

So On this Weekend, when we honor the living and the dead who have fought for our freedom, and our flag, I honor also all Crafters in uniform, particularly Patrick Stewart, a faithful Wiccan who gave his life and now the government refuses to honor him with the symbol of his faith, the Pentacle Star, on his headstone. This post is dedicated you Patrick.

Brightest Blessings Be,

Aslinn Dhan Dragonhawk

Thursday, November 09, 2006

In Memory of Celeste

My circle sister was a woman named Celeste. Celeste was an energetic
and open minded friend when I first knew her. I met her in a women's studies class and though I did not care that much for the class, I became close friends with her. She had crisp black hair and bright green eyes and a full mouth that screamed Celtic. She had an incredible sense of humor and when you talked to her, you knew she heard you.
I had returned to college after my husband died nearly ten years ago. Our instructor did not show up to class one night and I decided to go to the local watering hole to drink a couple of Guinness to wash away the week. I asked if anyone would like to come and Celeste said that she could use a couple of brews herself. She was delightful and philosophical and newly divorced. Beyond knowing that she was studying anthropology, I knew very little about her.

It never dawned on me that Celeste was a Wiccan until I invited her to Mass one Sunday Morning. She smiled and turned me down. Later I saw her and apologized, I had meant no harm and offered the visit as a friendly gesture. She said it was okay. And then I asked her if she had a religion and she said that she was a Wiccan.

I knew some things about the Craft and the occult and I asked what I hoped were thoughtful questions. I told her I was recently widowed and that I wasn't sure where my life was headed. We came to no quick conclusions that day but over the years and between the miles Celeste became my ex-officio mentor as I embarked on my study of the Craft.

You know how you know someone all of your life and you know they are gay or whatever and when they come out to you, you aren't that surprised that they are gay. Well, Celeste was the first one to come out and say "Aslinn, you are a witch!" And her revelation was so disturbing to me that I wouldn't speak to her for a long time. I was afraid fo what being a witch meant. Did it mean I wasn't a Christian? Was I going to hell? She contacted me first and came over to my place and discussed with me what that meant.

She told me that Craft could be practiced as a religion, as she did, or you could practice Craft as a spiritual practice, reflecting your own religious practice or tradition. "Imagine,"she said, "a Christian Witch."

Now I can see that some of you out there are wiggling around in your chairs and looking uncomfortable because perhaps you are Christians and you have doubts about the reality of Celeste's faith. Maybe you even mourn her for not being a Christian. Maybe you are afraid of what I just said, Christian Witch, and now you think you are in the presence of the devil.
I am no priest nor judge of souls. No one can judge another man's soul. All I can say is whether a person has goodness in their heart. And Celeste did have that goodness in her heart. I believe Celeste is in the Summerland she believed in and dreamed of and spoke of all of her life. She lived her life in circle of seasons and her life has come full.

Will we see her again? I say yes becuse heaven is a place of understanding and unversality and when we get ther we will be surprised to see who is standing next to us. Even if this is not a part of your belief system, do not judge Celeste or those who called her friend, sister, priestess and Crone. For Celeste walked a lightfooted path, trying not to harm flora or fauna or fellow man and serve the spirit she called divine, fulfilling her calling as a leader, healer and a teacher. She lives on in all of us and we are all better for having known her. As she always closed her letters, I give to you her sweetest words:

Brightest Blessings Be

Aslinn Dhan Dragonhawk

Monday, November 06, 2006

Celebrations in November

Merry Meet!

Though there is no Wiccan counterpart to the Sabats I celebrate in November, I do like to appoint a day about mid month when I do a cerimony or two to celebrate a couple of things that are important in my life. On that special sabat, I take time to remember the warriors, Wicce or not, who are serving our country here or abroad, particularly during this time of war. I don't like the thought of men and women in harm's way, particularly for this war, which is so unneccesary, but I do like to honor them and celebrate their warrior ways and their bravery and I like to celebrate those who have died in all of the wars for whether we like it or not, it was for us they died so that we could be free in America and over the years, freedom has come to mean so much us, particularly those of us in the Craft.

I also take time to thank God for all he has given to me. This can work for my Pagan and Wiccan friends, too, they can just thank their goddess or god of their choice. For this celebration, I set up my family shield. This is just a little something that I put together and made of posterboard cut into the shape of a shield and I glued pictures of my family, living and dead, symbols of our family, like shamrocks or feathers or bits and pieces that are important to me. I also display a cornucopia, celebrating the wealth which has been bestowed on me and my family. I set out orange and red and green and yellow candles to represent the passing or the seasons and wealth and I make lists of those I wish to honor, my accomplishments and things I have managed to do, and my goals and dreams. I have cakes and ale and I intone protections for my friends and family, especially if they travel and I intone blessings for the soldiers, living and dead and those who are at war for their protection. I play happy music, usually celtic or Native American and I thank God for all I have. It isn't an official Sabat from the wheel of the year, but it suits me and I invite everyone to do their own thanks for giving sabat.

Bright Blessings Be

Aslinn Dhan Dragonhawk

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A wonderful book came to me

Bright Blessings Be!

As I have traveled through my life and through my studies, I have found that I have met great people of faith, of Wiccan and Pagan and Christian, practicing Craft or just curious about the Craft. From time to time I have met resistance and not just from Christian friends who have noticed that my library leans heavily on the occult, but from Craft friends who say I cannot practice Craft and be Christian. One of these friends who expressed doubts, but does not hesitate to call me when she needs advice, called me about a month ago and said that I should get this little book called The Hex and Spell Craft of the Pennsylvania Dutch. I meant to get it, but then Celeste, my circle leader died and I started a temp job and I completely forgot about it when I saw it on I went on and ahead and ordered it and when it came in, I immediately devoured it. For a long time I wanted to find a book that very closely resembled or explained what I did as a witch, and though I still lean heavily on the Wiccan side of things like ritual and symbol, this book explained so much about what I believed in as a Christian and a worker of the Craft.

The book also delved into the magical practices of my Appalachian culture, and there are tons of magical spells and rituals in my culture that I have been collecting for years. This sort of magic is loosely referred to as Pow Wow and mixes some Native American Practices with Appalachian, sort of a non-Catholic, Protestant Appalachian Hoo Doo. It is mostly cures and herbs and prayers but there are also some spells and castings and other magical rituals one would be accustomed to.

This form of magic is practiced by the plain people, the Mennonites, Amish and the Lutheran brethren and there are some who say that they look at the hexes and the spellcraft with embarrassment because they are condemned as superstitious. This is not true because witches are not superstitious and they are not given to practicing superstition. They are practical people who wish to be of help and are in tune with the world of nature.

While I needed no book to vindicate me and my beliefs and practices, I feel as though a friend has been taught that there is a wide world of magics and an even wider world of witches tan she has ever imagined.

Merry Meet, Merry Met, Merry Meet Again.....

Aslinn Dhan Dragonhawk