Just an FYI this site will be going down for maintenance in the next couple of hours. Should be up by tomorrow. I apologize for any incovenience.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Deity of the Week - Ishtar

Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Next week I start to talk about Ostara again. But today I wanted to start my series on deities back up. Hope you enjoy.

One of the most popular myths of Ishtar is about her descent into the underworld using the Eastern entrance in attempt to obtain Ereshkigal's power over the underworld. In order to reach Ereshkigal, Ishtar needed to pass through the seven gates of the underworld, and was not allowed to pass through unless she removed an article of clothing for each of gate. Her clothes were symbollic of her divine power, thus she was systematically weakened in this fashion. By the time she arrived in the inner palace, she was naked and almost dead, but still determined to complete her task, when Ereshkigal arose from her throne, Ishtar took it. Ereshkigal's counselors, the Anunnaki, sentenced her to death for this action & hung her corpse on a hook.

However, before Ishtar had begun her journey, she had instructed her messenger, Ninshubur, that if she did not return within 3 days and 3 nights, to seek help for that would mean she was dead. Ninshubar first sought help with the gods, Enlil and Nanna, but they refused to aid her believing she deserved to die for her ambition. He then asked Enki, the lord of wisdom who had access to the food and water of life, for aid. Enki created 2 creatures, the kurgarru and the kalaturru, from the dirt of his fingernails & instructed them to carry the food and water of life to Ishtar in order to revive her. Their mission suceeded, but the Anunnaki demanded a substitute for her if she was to leave. A legion of demons accompanied her from the netherworld to search for her replacement. Ishtar refused to allow the demons to take anyone who had wept for her during her confinement as a replacement.

When Ishtar came upon her husband, Dumuzi, she found him adorned in a magnificent robe instead of mourning clothing. She told the demons to take him as her substitute. Dumuzi quickly used his magic to change himself into a reptile, & escaped to his sister, Gestinanna. She took pity on him & agreed to take his position in the underworld for half the year, while he would spend the other half the year in the underworld.

This is one of the many possible stories that led to the Christian Story of Easter. But probably not the only one. There is also the worship of Eostre. But much of the myth surrounding this Germanic Goddess has been lost to history.

Blessed Be!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Wicca for Kids - Wrap Up

Sunday, February 21, 2010
So I started this series nearly two weeks ago and have talked about a lot of the basics. Hopefully in enough detail for you to take the next steps in raising your child in your faith.

I know that I have left some things out, like Sabbats and Esbats. This is because I talk about them so much on this blog as it is. But I did want to say this, the key to ritual with children is simplicity. Not so simple that you insult their intelligence but simple enough that they can with very little knowledge catch on, participate and enjoy themselves.

Up to this point I have received some feedback, all positive. Yet I am looking for more feedback, either kind is fine. Is there anything that I left out? Anything you want to see in more detail? I am open to adding parts to this series in the future as the requests come in.

Blessed Be!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wicca for Kids - Magickal Tools and Children

Thursday, February 18, 2010
I have been practicing the Craft for almost 13 years and have never felt comfortable working with tools but I have met many people that have a need for the focus that tools can help to provide. But the point of today's post is not necessarily on the necessity of ritual tools, rather it is on whether to introduce children to tools and if so then when they should be introduced.
I believe that this a worthwhile argument because there are some tools that can be dangerous for young children. The prime examples being the athame and the bolline. I don't know about you but I don't want my young children running around with knives. Even if I decide that they are old enough to participate in more mature rituals.
But things like wands and cauldrons are relatively harmless as long as they don't run with them. And in fact a wand hunting expedition is a great activity to participate in with your children. If you make the decision to include your children in your family tradition and in small family rituals, then you will want to give considerable thought to gathering items for the children's own altar and ritual tool box.
These tools could include, but not be limited to;
  • Athame (Depending on age)
  • Bolline (As above, depending on age)
  • Wand
  • Chalice
  • Cauldron
  • Bell
  • Broom
  • Gemstones (Both precious and semi-precious; A great example are quartz points)
  • Pentacle Altar Tile
And although I personally don't use tools in my own practice, I believe that it is a good thing to introduce the tools to children and to all newcomers to the Craft at the beginning. For many people find them helpful and you should not deprive them of the chance to learn about them.

Blessed Be!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wicca for Kids - Grounding and Children - Tree Exercise

Wednesday, February 17, 2010
It has been my experience that many Pagans need to learn to ground. Now don't think I am saying that this is a bad thing, it is simply a result of a lack of teachers and the fact that you can only learn so much from a book. This applies even more to children, especially the younger ones. They are just learning to work with energy and subsequently grounding becomes even more important.

Here is something you can do with your children after ritual is the tree exercise. This simple but fun exercise will help you and your children to get grounded and centered.

First have them stand and put their feet firmly on the ground. Tell them that they are going to imagine being a tree.

Next have them raise their arms and stretch really high. Tell them that their arms are the branches. And then blow out your breath saying that it is the wind. And ask them to sway like a tree in gentle breeze. Say that trees pull their strength and food from the Sun and the Earth. Ask them to imagine the sun shining on them, unless it is daytime and you are outside. In that case just have them turn their faces up with closed eyes and feel the sun warm their faces and bodies.

Now tell them to wiggle their toes and feel the Earth, solid, beneath them. Have them imagine the Energy and strength flowing up through their feet and into their bodies. Ask them if they feel any stronger. This may take some practice for your kids to get down to get down, especially if they are real young. But stick with it and you will see some great results, I promise.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Wicca for Kids - God and His Aspects

Monday, February 15, 2010
Yesterday I talked about the Goddess and Her aspects, today I wanted to talk about her Consort the God.

Charge of the Horned Lord

I am the Horned Lord, Cernunnos, guardian of the cycle of birth and rebirth. I am the youth of Spring and exuberant life. My breath is the warming Southern wind. I am the Oak dressed in Brown and Green. I am the protective hunter, King of the animals and I am the wild Pan. Lovemaking, laughter and feasting are all testaments to my power and might. To love is to worship me. I am the Lord of the Greenwood, The Sun King and Heaven's Lord among countless other incarnations. I give to man these gifts; little children of all ages, ecstasy of the spirit and of the body, and I provide the path to self-illumination. I am the Sun and consort to the Earth Mother and the Star Goddess. I am the priest of the Sun. I am the gnostic upon the throne at the center of all life. And I am the leader of the Wild Rade that leads to the Underworld, which is your inner self. I am the fire in every beating heart and the waters of the soul, the Earth of the body and the breath of the mind. Call on me as protector and warrior for I am the God of Battles. I bring the rain, the ultimate promise of life, hear my voice and my laughter in the sound of the falling rain and be joyous. 

Specific Gods 
The Horned Lord, he who is the warrior, the hunter. Lover and consort to the Maiden, While She is the rolling meadow, He is the deep forest. Gentle stream, raging river; Quiet reflection, Ecstasy of Song and Dance. He is the Oak King, the Lord of the Dance. The newborn sun rising quickly to his zenith. He embodies the dynamic power of youth. Quick to word and action not yet tempered by age. He is not violent or angry except when he has no other choice.
Many pagans will include this aspect but ignore or gloss over the essential part that includes his warring nature and his love of the hunt. This world that we live in, as much as we hope otherwise, is not a peaceful one. There is war and there is death. But the Horned Lord is not about war for war's sake or hunting just to hunt and not to eat what is killed. Hunting at one point in our history was necessary not so much now but if do hunt say the prayers to the soul of the animal that you killed and give thanks when you consume its flesh. Choose to fight only when you have no other options before you. This aspect embodies tolerance and forbearance. Be tolerant of others but do not let others tread on you.
The Peaceful Warrior. These three words sum up the definition of the Horned Lord in his warring aspect. The warrior, first and foremost, seeks to reach above himself; to overcome his false perceptions. His highest achievment is not of victory but rather of absolute truth. And it is this truth that He integrates into all parts of his life.
The lives of the innocent and the weak he places above himself. For he has banished his ego knowing that all things are transient and fleeting. He seeks to be just and honorable, taking pride only in what he does, rather than what he has done. And to those that seek to be awakened he shows the way and guides them down that path.
Try to accept these lessons in your life. Act with truthfullness, tolerance and forbearance. Live in the moment for it is soon gone and Death will be here. The Horned Lord does not seek brilliance or the void instead he focuses on living his life, thinking deeply and working hard. Seek to do the same.
The Horned God is an iconic symbol that stretches across much of the ancient world. From the Celts into Rome and even into the Indus Valley in India. There are many names for Him. The best known is Cernunnos, even though there is nothing written about him by the ancients. Yet the images of him are consistent. He is often portrayed with antlers like a stag, and older man with long hair and beard. Most often he is pictured near a stag and near a ram horned serpent. It is because of his association with animals that he is called the Lord of the Animals or of the Hunt. Cernunnos is often portrayed sitting in what appears to be a meditative posture so he is in addition to being believed to be a God of fertility often believed to be a shamanic God.

Rede of the Lord of the Harvest 

I am the aging man toiling day after day to provide for his children. I am the Father who regardless of his worries always has a smile for his fellow man. I am the Earth aging and giving up its last crop. Yet I am also the promise of life unending even into Death. I am true love made real by a willing sacrifice. I am the yellow corn that gives life to the masses.

But still I am feared because I bring death soon, robed in black I bring the scythe that cuts down the wheat. Yet do not worry for does not the wheat continue your life? See my willing death in the waning sun and the leaves turning crimson and orange.

Yet remember my death is willing for in my death I end the battle between Son and Father and I spare the Earth. Look for me on the other side of this world in Summerland for I will be there to guide the souls of the dead and give them a chance at rebirth.

Specific Gods
He is our Father, ruler of the Earth's bounty and of the High Places. That grain that grows, yet also the scythe that cuts it down. He is Life and Death and the bridge between the two. For He is the grain in life and in death he is still the grain that gives us new life. He is the provider that walks that line, willing to sacrifice all, including himself, to provide for his family. The Lord of the Harvest is also the patron of the arts and crafts. Lugh was example of this, associated by the Romans with Mercury, because of his patronship of the arts and of all crafts and skills. He was also the god of traveling, money and commerce.Romano-Celtic images of Lugh show a bearded, mature and handsome man, carrying the symbols of the caduceus and purse, accompanied by his totems; the ram, cock and tortoise. He was often shown accompanied by Rosmerta or Maia, representing wealth and material benefit. Such companionship parallels the old Celtic custom of the marriage of the king to the material goddess of the land. The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus wrote of a version of the myth of Osiris. In this myth Osiris is described as an ancient king who taught the Egyptians the arts of civilization, including agriculture. Eventually Osiris is murdered by his evil brother Set who cuts the body of Osiris into twenty-six pieces. The great mystery festival of Osiris began at Abydos on the 17th of Athyr (November 13th) which commemorated the death of the god, which is also the same day that grain was planted in the ground. The resurrection of the god symbolized the rebirth of the grain. This aspect is representative of the ability of all things to be reborn. Remember all that falls shall rise again. Turn to the Lord of the Harvest when you feel you are at the end of your rope and look for the hope of rebirth, it is never that far. 

Tale of the Grandfather

Grandchildren, grandchildren gathered around my chair. You warm my heart and keep me young. I am the storyteller and the keeper of tradition. My body won't let me dance the sacred dances and my voice is to old to sing the Holy Songs. But my mind is still sharp and I can pass my wisdom down to the next generation.What was that? Oh yeah my name, who I am. Well I have been known by many names. I have been called Hephaestus, and the Holly King. I am grandfather Winter and the Ruler of the Underworld, Hades.If you come to seek wisdom. Listen for the lonely wind rattling through the trees and rocks. Look beneath the silence of the falling snow. Come and sit by the fire and if you look hard enough you will see me smiling out at you with a glint in my eye.
Specific Gods
Anubis, the Jackal God of the Egyptians is a good example of the power of this aspect. Even though he was shunned and made fun of by the Romans his worship continued at least until the second century in Rome.
As the God of dying and later of death, he was the guide of the souls through the veil. And as such he was known and prayed to as the protector of lost souls, such as orphans. Anubis was also the weigher of souls and this makes him a god of judgement as well.

The lame smith God of the Greeks Hephaestus is another God that falls into this aspect. His lesson is that you can be unpopular and not have good looks but still be in great need. The myths tell us that he was given the hand of Aphrodite because of his great crafting skill.
In fact his skill was in such demand that he wound up making most of the necessary items of legend for the other Gods and Heroes of old.
Hermes' winged helmet and sandals, the Aegis breastplate, Aphrodite's famed girdle, Agamemnon's staff of office, Achilles' armor, Heracles' bronze clappers, Helios' chariot, the shoulder of Pelops, and Eros' (Cupid) bow and arrows.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wicca for Kids - Goddess and Her Aspects

Sunday, February 14, 2010
Now that we have covered some of the foundation of Wicca I wanted to move on into some of the basic beliefs. Today specifically on the Goddess and her different aspects. I know that some of us believe in four aspects but personally I believe in three so it is those three that I am going to talk about.

The first two I think are easy for children to understand. But the third can be harsh for children, so I have taken the Grandmother traits of this aspect and tried to show those in a kid friendly manner. 

Song of the Maiden

Hear the words of the Maiden:

I who am La Primavera, The Springtime. I who am the promise of Life and the hope for immortality. The one who from beneath my dancing feet spring flowers. I who am the Virgin, untameable. Robed in white, pure and untouched by the world's strife.

I bid you to be merry in all you do. When you make love be sure to think of me for your little deaths are a chance for the beginnings of a little life. And at every birth think of me. For whether boy or girl I am also born there.

Every drop of rain is a blessing falling from my lips, so rejoice in the falling rain. I represent life unbridled, untamed. So I bid thee remember to be unashamed to sing or dance when the mood takes thee.

For every dance and every song is but an expression of the Song of Creation and the Dance of the Creatrix.

Count thy blessings every day and let not sadness take thee for every ending and misfortune leads to a new beginning and greater fortune. There is no room for sadness in the worship of Me.

Also remember not to fear the night for after every night there comes a new dawn. And I promise tht if ye look careful you can see me arrayed in clours wondrous on every morn at the rise of the Sun.
Specific Goddesses

This is the aspect of the Goddess pertaining to Youth and Innocence. She is the Eternal Virgin but not in the patriacharchal sense of a woman before sex or marriage but in the older sense of the word, a woman that belongs only to herself.

The Maiden aspect has many lessons for us. To love without bounds, to view the world through the eyes of innocence and to live in the moment. Through her we learn mercy and compassion. She is also a goddess of passion and gracefulness.

But as much as the Maiden lives in the now, she does not forget her duties. Nor does she let her innocence allow her to be taken advantage of. She is the Huntress, the Warrior Queen as much as she is the Midwife and the Gardener.

There are many Goddesses that fall into this aspect. One example is Artemis who was born after a short and painless labor. After her birth she then turned around and became midwife and nurturer to her Mother, Leto, and helped her mother to give birth to her own twin brother Apollo. Because of this Artemis became the Goddess of childbirth, the protector of children, and the goddess who listened most closely to the appeals of women. This Goddess' association with the wilderness around us, symbolized her own untamed nature. Because of her independence she became the best huntress of the Gods. She was also often depicted carrying a torch to light the way for others, leading them through territories yet uncharted.

There is also the Goddess Kuan Yin who's story best tells us about her. In her youth she was Miao Shan a maiden that wanted to become a Buddhist nun but was forbidden to do so by her Father. He tried to have her married off and when she refused he sent soldiers to kill her. She was saved by a tiger but then descended into the Land of the Dead and freed the souls in bondage there. Rose again and was greeted by Buddha himself who sent her into hiding on the isle of P'u T'o Shan where she reached enlightenment. Yet her suffering had taught her mercy and compassion so that she stopped short and turned back with the pledge to save mankind. That she would not reach enlightenment until everyone else before her reached there.

Rede of the Mother
Listen close and hearken to my words:

I who am Demeter, giver of fruitfulness and abundance; I who am Arianrhod, the Turner of the Heavenly Wheel; I who am Selene, Queen of the Starlit Heavens and Goddess of the Moon; I who am Hera, Goddess of the Hearth.

As I am the Goddess of the Moon. I am the bringer of change in your life. And although you may not see the wisdom, all I do is done for the betterment of each and every one of my children. But fear not for I am also Hera, Goddess of the Unchanging Hearth and I bring that growing power to each of your ventures, if they follow the Rede.

But also remember that for each of these gifts that I offer you, you must in turn spread your gifts to the people around you. Be a light in the world to show the way of love and the way of peace and passivity. But do not think that I counsel you to let yourself be trodden upon. Stand firm in your beliefs and for your rights. Yet do this while remaining calm and loving. And I assure you that if enough of you do this then it will spread like all wondrous things will and the world will be united in peace and love.

Let each person lead their own lives. yet counsel in love if you see them doing harm to themselves or others. Also lead by example. Live these words and others will follow. For do not actions speak louder than words?

I give you all my blessings and shower you in my Love. Blessed Be!
Specific Goddesses

The Mother is an aspect of the Goddess that at first glance seems self-explanatory. The Mother is the mother right? While she is that nurturing force, she is also self-sacrifice personified. But not self-sacrifice for its sake, rather she will sacrifice her needs and desires and even herself for her children and those she loves.

As the Maiden was the Virgin, so has the Mother commited herself to her lover and to her children. Now that she is grown older she can no longer worry only about today and how she is affected, for she has brought new life into the world and she carries that responsibility.

She is the gateway to life and the womb that grows the seed. She is the Moon and the Earth and the controller of tides. She is universal love and the path to peace.

Demeter as the Goddess of grain and fertility was an important deity to the ancient Greeks. She was the mother of Persephone who was also called Kore. And in that story we see the dedication found in this aspect. She never stopped seeking for her lost daughter and when she found her she braved all things, even death, to rescue her.

Before her marriage to Zeus, Hera was called the Queen of Heaven because she ruled over the heavens and the earth and was responsible for every aspect of existence, including the seasons and the weather. She was also known as Juno in the Roman pantheon, the Goddess of weddings. Her sacred animals were the peacock and the cow. The cow symbolizing Hera's watchfulness over her children and the peacock symbolizes her beauty and immortality. She has been called upon in olden days to bless and protect a woman's marriage. Bringing fertility and protection for her children.
Charge of the Crone

Come closer my grandchildren sit at my feet and hear my words. Let me tell you the story of my life and the lessons I have learned. Know that I am the Darksome terrible Goddess, but I only bring terror to those who do not understand.

I am Hecate, the Crossroads. I am Morganna, Raven of Battles. I am the widow descending to the Underworld to find my lost husband and my future son. And I am the womb that they are born from.

Know that at lifes end I will be waiting for you; to guide you through death and into rebirth. And that I will be there at birth to guide you through birth into life.

To truly taste life is to worship me. For Magick and art are my domains and my greatest lesson is love itself. So let there be compassion in your anger, power in your humbleness and mirth balanced against discipline.

Yet remember that if you seek to remove my veil and see my true face you have only to look within for I am always with you from the beginning to the end.
Specific Goddesses

Who is the Crone? She is the one who, wrapped in mystery, brings the wisdom that is key to unlock the ancient mysteries. She is blunt and sometimes harsh but that is only because she has learned the value of unfettered honesty. The end of her life draws near and she has no time to indulge people in their illusions. She can be turned to when the world has baffled you, because she has lived a long life and more likely then not she has already solved the puzzle that faces you.

See her face in the dark of the Moon and the cool night shadows and look within to know that she has always been with you from birth through death. She is the tomb that is the womb that leads from death into the rebirth and new life.

The Crone goddess of the Welsh was Cerridwen. A shape-shifting goddess of divination and enchantment. Her cauldron is a symbol of death and of life. It represents the womb and the tomb through which we have all passed and will pass again.

Her cauldron can contain the elixir of immortality that allows us to pass through death and into rebirth to live again. It may also contain the waters of Knowledge. Which would make it the Grail that Arthur seeked so long for. For a king of the Celts ruled by the will of the Goddess.

The ancient race of the Slavs worshipped a Goddess called Baba Yaga. She is the old crone that guards the Water of Life and Death. She is oftentimes represented as the wild untamed forces of nature but as we know the storm brings the water of life allowing for rebirth.

Her symbols are the birch tree, the tree of beginnings and endings. She was also known as the White Lady as she is stiff and white and carved of bone.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wicca for Kids - Ethics

Thursday, February 11, 2010
In my Wicca 101 class for adults this is the time that I begin to cover the morals of Wicca. While I limit my discussion to mostly the Wiccan Rede, children need a little more then just harm none. So today in my continuing Wicca 101 series for kids I wanted to talk about Family and Ethics.

Family is defined by a common sense of morals and traditions. I know that seems to be common sense but bear with me as I go on.

It has been my experience, that other then a vague sense of right and wrong and a belief in the Wiccan Rede, that many Pagans don't have a well defined list of Virtues. Although they have a personal code, they often can not say what that is. Now I am not saying that Pagans are unethical or that there is something wrong with them. But rather what I am saying is that many of us grew up in a strict religion and/or household that ranted about sin and hellfire. And when we left that religion we chose to stay as far away from anything remotely like what we came from before.

This is a problem because ethics and virtues are very important for the individual and even more so for the family as a whole, not to mention the community at large. But the question is, how do we mesh all our individual senses of right and wrong into a common one? This is a simple exercise for the adults of the family. I say the adults because kids are still too young, for the most part to have their own sense of morals. For the older kids I leave that up to your judgement. You know your children better then anyone else.

I have included a list of thirteen virtues and my thoughts on them at the bottom of today's article. But do not think that you are limited to just those. Compile a large list of virtues and ethics and then whittle it down to around thirteen. This will be a manageable list that you can implement in your family.

Just remember do not do this lightly. I know that this may seem like a common sense statement but you must be sure that each virtue fully reflects your visions for what a family is and should be. And how it governs itself with each other and the world around us.

Now after you have created this list you need to have a family meeting and share it with everyone. And, most importantly, hold them to it. How you enforce the breaking of these rules is up to you. I have been blessed with two great kids, who usually listen without any problem. So the question of punishment is one that hardly arises. Although when it has I have had problems with guilt, wondering if I have been to hard and should just relax the rules a bit. When these doubts come up, I silence them with the thought that these rules are a microcosm of the rules that we all have to follow as adults in society. Whether in our relationships, our jobs, or just in day to day interaction with others of our species. And as I have been saying for a long time, my job is not to raise kids but to create normal well-adjusted adults.

As promised here is a list of virtues and some of my thoughts on them. These were found originally through FWTI which cites the Unicorn Tradition as the source.
  • Tolerance - Webster defines as tolerance as 'sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own.'So how does one, as a parent, teach this to their kids? It is my belief that children are born tolerant. The idea of bigotry and racism is, in my opinion, something that is taught. So the real question here is not what can be done to teach it, but what can be done to encourage it to stick around.The first step would be to examine yourself. Are you tolerant of all? Do you ever speak unkindly of people in a general manner? Children have few else to learn from other then their parents.Then you need to wipe these things out of your thoughts and vocabulary.If this doesn't apply or you are ready to move on then you can work to expose your kids to different cultures and (if they are old enough) different religions. I know that in the plans for homeschooling my youngest, that when she gets old enough that the religious books of other faiths will be required. Tolerance comes from true knowledge of others.
  • Charity - Webster defines this as benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity.
    The love I speak of is not just passionate love, or even brotherly love. The term for this love is Agape. Defined as the selfless love of one person for another without sexual implications (especially love that is spiritual in nature).
    I know, its a mouthful, but what better lesson can you teach your kid then love?
    Children start off being obsessed with me and mine, so for them to not just be tolerant of others but to love them and to have goodwill towards, they must have good examples i.e. Parents.
    Teach your children to love others and to do nice things for others. It has been my experience that to make them do so, is a wrong choice. They will only rebel. Point out the world around them and step back to give them chances to develop a sense of Charity for their fellow man.
  • Humility - I think that humility is something that is missing in our culture. We are afraid of letting our kids lose, at anything. They have done away with keeping score and/or lowered the standards in school, so that no one's self-esteem is damaged. And what has been the result? We have a generation of children with no drive. They do not understand that they have limitations and so they can't understand why they fail in the real world.
  • Devotion - I define this as the following and worshiping of the Gods, and all that that entails. 
  • Patience - Probably one of the hardest things for anyone to learn. But also one of the most important lessons to learn. My spiritual teacher always talks about Wicca and the organic method. Meaning that things happen in the time and way they are supposed to happen, we just have to be patient enough to wait for it to happen. Now this doesn't mean that we can sit idly by and wait for the bills to be paid. Rather it is to take life one day at a time and to just let things flow.
  • Kindliness- Probably one of the easiest of the virtues to learn. So what is kindliness? Well simply speaking it is the act of being kind. And it is the end result of following the Wiccan Rede, 'An it harm none, do as ye will. For doing no harm is the end result of being kind.
  • Forbearance - Forbearance is the art of self-control. Yes, I know short answer but it is the easiest to say.
    Forbearance is the act of restraining oneself and not giving into our baser natures. It is what keeps us from being vicious and cruel and allows us to show compassion and love.
    All good parents already teach this to their children whether they call it that or not. We teach our kids the difference between right and wrong. Some of us probably even say to them, "control yourselves."
    On another level forbearance becomes the act of letting things go. To not hold grudges or to turn the other cheek. Now this doesn't mean that we should let the world walk all over us, but rather that we should not be ruled by our anger and our hate. Rather that we do not act as the world acts
  • Sincerity - This means truth in word and act. That when you say something that that is what you mean and follow through. It goes far beyond just honesty and good follow through.
    Rather it is knowing that you can do what you say and not saying what you know you can't do. I know that I keep falling back on the old cliche. But it continues to be true. Lead by example. If your kids know that you mean what you say then they will eventually seek to emulate that in their own life.
  • Courage - defined by Webster as: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. The ability to face fear and overcome it so that we can persevere. Whether that fear is a fear of ones self or of failure.
    But this must not be confused with bravery. For fools are brave and rush into things with fear and thinking. But wise people are courageous and overcome adversity.
  • Precision - is being precise in thought, word and action. Meaning that we should strive to be unambiguous in speech and action.
    To many people I have met seem to have a problem just speaking their mind. We couch ourselves in half truths and hesitate to speak our minds. Instead we should be upfront and honest with first ourselves and then with everyone else in our lives.
  • Efficiency - This goes back to my post on cutting out the clutter in your lives. If we have to much then our energies are scattered and we cannot be efficient.
  • Discrimination - is the ability to be able to discern the truth in others. To see the real meaning of what people say. In other words to not be gullible.
  • Wisdom - is the proper use of knowledge and thoughts. We can have knowledge but if we don't act on it in a proper and "wise" manner, what good is it?
    Wisdom is also that which allows us to make decisions that do not involve ourselves getting drowned in drama or calamity. And as to be expected, wisdom cannot be taught. It can only be gained through experience, whether in this life or in past lives.
Blessed Be!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wicca for Kids - Creation Story

Wednesday, February 10, 2010
So up to this point in my Wicca 101 series for children, I have talked about what Wicca is and about some of the most influential people within the Craft.  Now I want to begin to talk about what we believe.  Today specifically I wanted to share a Creation Story written especially for children. Now of course this is not the only right story. But I feel that it is important for us to know where we as a species come from. So if you have a better story or one that more fits your family's unique belief system, then by all means use that one. 

In the beginning there was the Goddess. And from her mind and her breath came forth matter and its ruler the God. And She looked upon Him and loved him as herself. For they were truly one flesh, opposite sides of the same coin. Her Love became his Passion. Her smile became his laughter. Her softness, His sharpness. They were the Yin Yang; opposites crossed. Yet as they were different so were they the same for part of Her resides in Him and part of Him in Her.

Together they made love and dreamt of many things. And from their thoughts sprang forth Existence and all within it. Marveling upon the wonder and beauty of the Earth below them the Gods came down into it and played among its waters and its caverns. Raced among the clouds that soared above the peaks and heights of the mountains. The Lady then decided to make her home the Earth and the depths within it and also the waters that lied upon the bosom of the Earth. For as life came from her so the does life come from the Earth and the waters that abound upon it. She chose the moon as her symbol since it affected the waters so deeply. The God chose the Sky and its boundless freedom for his abode. He also taught to man fire and on occasion still can be seen dancing in those golden fiery flames. And he chose the Sun as his symbol since it warms the waters and bring his Love, the Goddess, closer to him.

The Earth spun forward on its orbit and the Goddess became heavy with child from the God soon after what would later be called Bealtaine. The child, their son, was born and came quickly to adulthood. And as all sons do he rose up against his Father and strove for power. And the battles raged between Father and Son. Oak King and Holly King. The Mother, Goddess of us All, became weary and aged with the battles and as such so did the Earth. 'Til fearing for Her life the Oak King, Father, laid down his Sword of Power and descended into the Underworld at Lughnassadh.

But the Goddess now missing her lover left the Holly King and went in search for Him. At Samhain she descended into the Underworld leaving the Earth and all its inhabitants behind. Without Her life and care the Earth quickly descended into Winter. Yet the Goddess returned from the Underworld again heavy with child and the promise that the Oak King would come again at Yule and reclaim his rightful place.

True to his word as the sun rose and the light returned to the World on what is the shortest day, the Oak King sprang forth and struck at his once and future Son. Realizing his folly and knowing that defeat was near the Holly King bowed and walked away from the fight, knowing and saying that he would return in the spring and that this story would repeat itself again and that by this would the Seasons be counted and that the year and time itself would be measured by this story.

So look at the holidays that we celebrate and know that this story has repeated itself through the ages and will continue to do so. Until all grinds to a halt and return to the Mother from which we all sprang. So that all may begin again. For there is no beginning to time nor is there an end.

Blessed Be!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Wicca for Kids - Starhawk and the Feminist Side of Wicca

Tuesday, February 9, 2010
I wanted to cover this amazing woman but was unsure of how to proceed. So I turned to another fantastic woman that I know, Bex. She runs a great blog as well, check it out at Bex's Hexes.

Starhawk is a world renowned Wiccan author and activist. She is the author or coauthor of eleven books, including The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess. Starhawk's newest book is a picture book for children, The Last Wild Witch. Starhawk is often considered the pioneer of the reemergence of earth-based and feminist spirituality. While those titles and words sound important, what exactly do they mean? An activist is someone who is involved in organizations and their community, with the intention of making positive change. An activist is usually involved in a specific cause or organization they are not necessarily an activist for everything. For example an environmental activist is someone who is actively involved in improving and saving our natural environment.  Starhawk is considered an environmental activist, and she is very involved in the Pagan community as well. She believes it is very important for Pagans and Wiccans to use their spiritual beliefs to be politically involved in their communities. She is a community organizer and supports efforts to end war and causes like global justice.

In addition to her political activism Starhawk is famous for promoting the idea of feminist spirituality. Feminism is the belief that women are equal to men in all areas of life. This does not mean that feminists believe men and women are exactly the same, just that they are equal in value. Feminism is usually seen as a political movement where men and women are fighting for the legal rights of women to be equal to men’s. Feminism can also be applied to religion though. Before the reemergence of Pagan religions, America and other westernized countries’ religious beliefs and culture were predominantly Judeo-Christian based (still are). The religious beliefs and practices within the Judeo-Christian religions directly affect how women are treated in society. The religious teachings of Judeo-Christian religions are focused around a male-only system. They teach that there is only a male god, male angels, male prophets, male spiritual teachers, and that men are in charge of women. These beliefs have lead to the oppression of women for thousands of years.  People like Starhawk are helping to bring awareness to the oppression that religious beliefs like this have on women. Starhawk promotes Pagan religions that are not only earth-based, but also centered around the “Sacred Feminine.” The Scared Feminine is the idea that there are feminine deities and spiritual energies just like there are male ones. People who embrace the Sacred Feminine usually worship a Goddess (or multiple Goddesses). They see femininity within the spiritual world and religion. They also allow women to become spiritual leaders or priestesses within the religion.  Starhawk has been a powerful leader within the Sacred Feminine movement and she continues to promote the rights of women both politically and spiritually.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Wicca For Kids - The Tradition Continues

Monday, February 8, 2010
One of the most influential High Priests of Wicca, in the early years was Alex Sanders. Initiated by Patricia Crowther, herself a student of Gerald Gardner, he did much to get Wicca covered by the media. This of course led to the growing interest in the Craft. He is responsible for creating the tradition of Alexandrianism.

All of this interest led a man, named Raymond Buckland, to fly to the U.K. from America to be trained in this new religion. After training and returning to the states he was the first in America to admit to practicing Wicca. His books helped to shape modern Wicca as we know. From making a new tradition based upon the Gardernerian teachings but with Anglo-Saxon influence.

Now up to this point to be trained in Wicca one had to find a coven willing to teach and that you got along with. But this was soon to change. Because a man named Scott Cunningham was to publish a book for Solitary Practitioners.  Although faced with much controversy, this book was probably one of the most influential books in modern Wicca/Paganism. 

There are many other famous authors that I could talk about but these are the major, with one exception, players that have helped to shape the modern face of Wicca and Paganism. From Gardner and Valiente to his students and their students. To Buckland bringing the Craft to the Americas and Cunningham opening the door and revealing the Mysteries to all that could just pick up and read his book. Stay tuned for a guest post tomorrow on the last biography of this series. 

Blessed Be!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wicca For Kids - Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente

Sunday, February 7, 2010
Gerald Gardner is the man that founded the religion of Wicca. It is his early books and teachings that is the basis for all that we do today. Initiated into the New Forest Coven in 1939 he soon went out on his own and begin to add to the teachings that he was given, creating what was later known as Gardernerian Wicca.

Later, with some hesitation, he initiated a woman named Doreen Valiente into the Craft. She later became the High Priestess of his coven and helped him to rewrite his Book of Shadows, making it into what we see and some of us practice today. This led to her being called the 'Mother of Modern Witchcraft' by Dr Leo Ruickbie.

Doreen was the author of the famous Charge of the Goddess and Charge of the God. Both of which have helped to shape Modern Wicca as well.

I have chosen to take time this week to talk, albeit in brief, about the founders of the modern Wiccan/Pagan movement. There are some I will leave out due to constraint on time, but I am always open to adding them later if their is enough demand.

Blessed Be!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Wicca For Kids - 13 Principles -- part 2

Friday, February 5, 2010

Continuing from yesterday's post here are the last seven of the Thirteen Principles of Witchcraft and my thoughts on them.

7. We see religion, magick and wisdom-in-living as being united in the way one views the world and lives within it -- a world viewand philosophy of life which we identify as Witchcraft, the Wiccan Way.

Wicca is not about just celebrating the Sabbats and the Esbats. Rather it is how we live our lives everyday. We see the Goddess and God in all things. Whether it is a thunderstorm or a sunrise. 

8. Calling oneself "Witch" does not make a Witch -- but neither does heredity itself, nor the collecting of titles, degrees and initiations. A Witch seeks to control the forces within her/himself that make life possible in order to live wisely and well without harm to others and in harmony with Nature.

We must live a good life and be a good example to the world around us. Just like the last one this is not just about celebrating it is about Living It.

9. We believe in the affirmation and fulfillment of life in a continuation of evolution and development of consciousness, that gives meaning to the Universe we know, and our personal role within it.

We believe that all things change. Some good and some bad but that is how we learn.

10. Our only animosity towards Christianity, or toward any other religion or philosophy of life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be "the only way," and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practice and belief.

I think that this is pretty self-explanatory. We do not have any thing against other religions as long as we can practice our own.

11. As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the Craft, the origins of various terms, the origins of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present and our future.

While we are not an 'old' faith we know that what we do works. And rather than focus on what came before we are focused on now and what is coming. 

12. We do not accept the concept of absolute evil, nor do we worship any entity known as "Satan" or "the Devil", as defined by Christian tradition. We do not seek power through the suffering of others, nor do we accept that personal benefit can be derived only by denial to another.

This reflects well the concept of the Wiccan Rede; 'If it harm none do as you will'. 

13. We believe that we should seek within Nature that which is contributory to our health and well-being.

I know that many of us use herbal teas at the very least. That may be a beginning to a way to explain this to our kids. Explain that many of our medicines come from the natural world, they have just been copied in a lab.

I hope that you have enjoyed these posts. I start next week on the History of the Craft, hope you tune in and let me know what you think so far.

Blessed Be!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wicca For Kids - 13 Principles -- part 1

Thursday, February 4, 2010
The first thing to do in teaching children about Wicca is to explain to them what exactly Wicca is. In the class for adults that I teach, I share with them the Thirteen Principles of Wiccan Belief. This was put together by the Council of American Witches in 1974. Now this is far from a perfect list, I have found that this describes most Pagans today. But it serves the purpose of illustrating to the Student what it is that we as  Wiccans/Pagans do.

I am going to post the first six today and my comments on them. The rest will be forthcoming tomorrow.

1. We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the Moon and the seasonal Quarters and Cross Quarters.

If you have been following this blog then your kids should be familiar with the Esbats and the Sabbats. 

2. We recognize that our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility towards our environment. We seek to live in harmony with Nature, in ecological balance offering fulfillment to life and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.

The Earth is a symbol of the Goddess and if we want to honor and show Her respect then we should work to keep the Earth clean and not litter. 

3. We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than that is apparent to the average person. Because it is far greater than ordinary it is sometimes called "supernatural", but we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.

Now this is one that you will have to choose whether your child is ready to understand. Personally I have not talked to my youngest daughter about this. I think she is to young to understand the concepts of magick.

4. We conceive of the Creative Power in the universe as manifesting through polarity-as masculine and feminine-and that this same Creative Power lies in all people, and functions through the interaction of the masculine and feminine. We value neither above the other, knowing each to be supportive of the other. We value sex as pleasure, as the symbol and embodiment of life, and as one of the sources of energies used in magickal practice and religious worship. 

The same goes for the last line of this one. If you haven't talked about the 'birds and the bees' then leave it out. But they do need to understand that Deity is expressed in the Wiccan faith as Goddess and God or by whatever names you understand them by. (More on deity is coming  during this series)

5. We recognize both outer and inner, or psychological, worlds -- sometimes known as the Spiritual World, the Collective Unconscious, Inner Planes, etc. -- and we see in the interaction of these two dimensions the basis for paranormal phenomena and magickal exercises. We neglect neither dimension for the other, seeing both as necessary for our fulfillment.

To explain this one I have asked them if they can see the Goddess and God the same as she does my wife or myself. Of course her answer was no. Then I told her that this is because the Gods live on a different plane or in a different world. That sometimes if we think about or pray to them then we can hear them and feel them. 

6. We do not recognize any authoritarian hierarchy, but do honor those who teach, respect those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who have courageously given of themselves in leadership.

Of the six posted today this is one of the hardest to explain. My daughter knows about other religions, so it is easy to show her the Pope and explain the power of the Catholic Church and then show that we don't have a Pope. I also in rituals allow her a little spontaneity so that she can understand that their is no 'Right Way'. 

I hope that todays post is a good start for you all to begin exposing your children to more of your faith. Whether it is their first time or they have been learning about and experiencing it for a while. Any comments would be appreciated, positive or negative.

Blessed Be!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Family that Circles Together Dances Forever

Wednesday, February 3, 2010
To start off this series on Wicca 101 for children I wanted to repost an article from my newsletter on Steps to a Stronger and More Spiritual Family. This one on raising our children in our faith. I hope that you all enjoy.

This is a topic that my opinion on has changed in the last two years. I originally believed that a child should not have religion until they were old enough to choose, this probably comes from the fact that I had no choice in religion growing up and when I got old enough to choose, I chose Wicca. Then as I started my blog, PaganDad, I started thinking that a child needed spirituality and could do without religion. Yet lately I have come to the realization that spirituality alone is not enough in most cases. Oftentimes spirituality needs a "framework" to grow on. I think that the best framework for spirituality is religion. As long as that religious choice is up to the child when they get old enough to make their own decisions.

Imagine, if you will, a viny plant (something like ivy) without a trellis to grow on, it will grow out everywhere and be wild and out of control. This vine is very much like one's spirituality, without religion to grow on and be supported by it can become wild or unfocused. But with that trellis it can grow up and up, with no limit but the sky. Becoming stronger and harder to cut away.

On the other hand, I know that some of you may be trying hard to see how the two can be separated. I know that at one point I saw no distinction either, but I have found that spirituality is best defined as the belief in something greater and larger then ourselves, something not of this physical plane. On the other hand religion is the worship of that greater and larger thing, a belief that Deity is there to guide us and help us. With these definitons it is easy to see a separation between the two.

In relation to family, I hope that you do decide to include your child in your religion. If you are Pagan then you should not be worried that they are going to feel obligated to stay here, since our religion is about personal choice and lacks the concept of guilt over "sin". Then again they may stay after they "shop" around the other religions, for I like to think that we have more fun in Circle.

With my family I plan on exposing my youngest, who I am homeschooling, to all of the religions in an objective manner when she approaches the age of choice. This age of choice will be determined upon her maturity.

Now if you do decide to include your kids remember to regard your children's ages when you do so. They have different levels of attention spans, adjust your rituals contents and length according to that. I have a five year old that I include in ritual, and my rituals are fun and short. No long invocations or elaborate rules, just an acknowledgement of the elements and a conversation with the Gods. Then a small explanation of what that night's ritual means and then a quick closing. Short, Simple, Easy.

To close I wanted to leave you with a quote from a friend of mine, Jon Edens of Blackberry Circle in Texas, "The Family that Circles Together Dances Forever".

If you are interested in more articles like this you may want to purchase a hard copy of the entire newsletter. You can do so here