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Magickal Musings From Infinite Flame

1-10-11
Define "wicked".....

 

Happy 2011

Another new year starts, full of promise. In the past week or so I've had many ideas and inspirations being sent to me. I can't implement them all at once, but I hope to give them all a try. I, like so many others out there, am struggling with money issues and these messages give me hope that I can be more prosperous this year. I hope you are receiving the answers you seek too, and that all of us can have a prosperous year full of new experiences and adventures.

January Special: 10% off all my jewelry on the Infinite Flame website! Online orders only, valid until 11:59pm EST on January 31, 2011. Each piece is one-of-a-kind, when its gone, its gone. I will do my best to keep the site updated when anything sells.

This newsletter took all week to write. I started it at the dark moon but its not sent until a week later (the date today is 1-10-11...11011...cool, huh). I have been checking with many different books and online sources so I can be as factual as I can and hopefully not upset anyone as they read the third part of this newsletter. The second part is all me and my opinion. "Cause I've been where I have been, An I've seen what I have seen, I put the pen to the paper, Cause its all a part of me" (see Song Quote).

Are You a Witch or a Wiccan?

At the last Gibraltar show, a lady asked if I was wiccan. I said I was a witch but not wiccan. She asked what is the difference? And that is how I got the idea for this newsletter. My purpose is to clarify for those new to the craft the different paths that are available to them. I am not recommending any particular one, nor am I putting any down. No practice is more powerful than any other, they are all equally effective. Each person chooses what works for them.

I am an eclectic witch. I take a little from here and a little from there and create my own way of practicing. I'm a Hedge Witch in that I am a solitary, use herbs/oils, and perform spellwork in my kitchen, and a Green Witch in that I use natural items in my spellwork and recycle or re-use as much as I can. I am a Traditional Witch in the sense that I don’t agree with much of the neo-pagan ideas, I prefer to follow the "old religion" that generations of witches have used (altho I do not have an elder in my family to pass this down). I find that I am drawn to Ceremonial Magick, my theatrical side loves the magickal wardrobe and the tools, and the pageantry of a big involved ritual, but I also perform practical magick. I am both a Solitary and I work with a group (not a coven, there is only one witch I do spells with and our holidays consist of two witches and two spiritual women). I am an Elemental Witch as the group rituals I create are often based on 4 people, one for each element (we are all spirit). I am a High Priestess, but of what you may ask. Well, not of a proper coven or of any particular path. During my HP ceremony, no particular title was named. I am HP of my own path. The title is in recognition of achievement and experience that can only come from many years of practicing. It holds the responsibility for others within my circle, the weight of leadership, and the wisdom to tackle whatever may arise.

I am not a wiccan because 1. I do not agree with everything they say or do (I am NOT saying they are wrong, just I do not agree) and 2. many wiccans believe "only a witch can make a witch" and since no wiccan has "made" me, I must not be one. For a while I did say I was wiccan. Mainly this was because witch causes some fear (yes, even in these "enlightened" times) and because many people did not know what wicca was in the 80's so most were just curious. As I became more aware of wiccan beliefs and practices, I realized that what felt right to me did not always align with them. So now I call myself a witch.

That being said, I was surprised to find the majority of my books are wiccan. Is that because only wiccans write books or because only wiccans own publishing companies? Anyway, my point is that just because you do not feel you are Gardnerian or an elemental witch or whatever, do not discount their practices or books. I have gotten many good ritual ideas or information on spell ingredients from a wide variety of books on many different practices. Scott Cunningham is wiccan but his herb and oil references are fabulous, I'm not going to discount them just because I don't follow his path. My circles and rituals contain some wiccan elements, just because I felt like incorporating them when I learned of them.

And please don't give me the "don’t label me" lecture. We, as humans, like to put labels on things and put them in a box. Plants are categorized and so is the animal kingdom. When we meet people they ask "what do you do?" or "what's your sign?". Putting you in a box helps us to remember you. "Oh, that's John, he's a scorpio, practices Druidism, and has a day job as a corporate executive." If you are a Dianic Wiccan, be proud and say so. If you follow your own path, say "I am a witch who follows my own path". Saying "I don’t believe in labels" says "I want to be mysterious so I'll change the subject and argue about labels." Get over yourself and join us in the box.....we have cookies in here!

Which Witch is What?

Let me state right from the start that none of these paths are better than the rest. They are all equal. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. They all produce results for those who follow them, and these results are equal. It is a matter of personal choice. If someone tells you their way is better than the rest or more powerful, walk away. It may be better or more powerful to them, but you have the freedom of choice to decide what fits you best. The beauty of following a pagan path is that we accept all religions as valid and know that all gods are the same god. It follows that all magickal practices are valid and therefore equal. Period.

All witches are pagans, but not all pagans are witches. What is a pagan? According to dictionary.com, a pagan is: "1. one of a people or community observing a polytheistic (belief in more than one god) religion, as the ancient Romans and Greeks.; 2. a person who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim.; 3. an irreligious or hedonistic person". Notice it says nothing about worshipping the devil. So except for Satanism, pagans do not, as a group, worship the devil. Some honor gods and some honor nature (the word worship seemed wrong, so I used honor).

All wiccans are witches, but not all witches are wiccan. According to two sources (1 & 2 in the Credit & Butt-Kissing section), many witches today prefer to use the term wicca because it does not carry the negative stereotype of the word witch or witchcraft. This goes along with what I stated earlier, it is a safer term to use. But this is not really the truth. Wicca was "created" by Gerald Gardner, who was initiated into a tradition British coven by Dorothy Clutterbuck in 1939. He later published books about the beliefs and practices. These books contained much material that he himself created, along with material created by Doreen Valiente and Aleister Crowley (see next paragraph). And there is the difference. He took what he had learned from older traditions and molded it into his own way of practicing (sources 1, 2, & 4). An example of this is the ritual nudity in wicca, hereditary witches say they and their ancestors have always worked clothed. Wicca is witchcraft according to Gardner, it is a neo-pagan religion. It is still witchcraft. It is powerful and effective. It is witchcraft as a religion.

I am not going to get sidetracked and write about Gardner’s life but I feel it is important to mention some of the people he met who influenced his practices. In 1947 he met Aleister Crowley, who was in poor health at the time. Crowley gave Gardner some magical material of his and, using this and some other sources, Gardner compiled his Book of Shadows (source 2). In 1953, Gardner initiated Doreen Valiente into his coven and she made many changes to his Book of Shadows, among them giving more emphasis to the Goddess. They collaborated and their body of work is the basis for the Gardnerian tradition of wicca (source 1). My purpose today is not to go into exactly what the practices of wicca consist of, consult any book on wicca for more details.

Wicca has evolved into many traditions. They are (according to source 3 in the credit section):

  • Gardnerian Wicca: A formal, hierarchical path with skyclad (nude) worship and degrees of initiation. Focuses on rituals and male/female polarity. Covens have no more than 13 members and are led by a high priestess and high priest. Gardnerians believe it takes a witch to make a witch and tend to disapprove of the newer "do it yourself" wiccans. (her words, not mine!)

  • Alexandrian Wicca: A formal, structured, neo-Gardnerian tradition founded by Alex and Maxine Sanders in England in the 1960’s. Alexandrian and Gardnerian are often referred to as Classical Wicca.

  • British Trad Wicca: Formal, structured tradition that mixes Celtic deities and spirituality with Gardnerian type wicca.

  • Celtic Wicca: Incorporates Celtic god/goddess and spirituality with green witchcraft and faery magic.

  • Dianic Wicca: Named for the goddess Diana, a goddess centered tradition that excludes gods and does not require initiation. Thought of as a feminist or lesbian path, there are also male Dianic witches.

  • Faery Wicca: Irish tradition that centers on green witchcraft and faery magic.

  • Teutonic Wicca: Nordic witchcraft which incorporates deities, symbolism, and practices from Norse and Germanic Cultures.

If you do not follow the beliefs and practices of the above traditions, then you may consider yourself a witch, and not wiccan. Many witches are hereditary, their traditions have been passed down through the generations. Some have found it skips a generation here and there. Do you have to have a witch in your family to be a witch? No. I do not have a witch in my family. A closer look at my relatives reveals some hints at it, but my family tradition is to not speak of those with talents beyond the normal, unfortunately. Anyone can be a witch, but please do not use TV and movies as your guides : )

A witch's rituals and spells are very similar to that of the Native American traditions and shamanism. It is not based on dogma or a sacred book, it is based on nature and oral tradition. Seeing the energy in all living things and living in harmony with that energy. On occasion, we use, or bend, that energy to create that which we want in our lives. We do not go around causing trouble or pain, we bring healing and comfort. Oh, we can curse a person, but this power is reserved for those who cause harm or death to another, and then only when absolutely necessary. Wiccans follow the "harm none" rule, witches know that sometimes only a curse will do (again, only towards those individuals who have already caused real harm to others).

In the pre-Gardnerian era, witchcraft was often called the old religion. There is very little record of the old religion as much of it was passed down orally from one generation to another, and also because much of what was written was destroyed. According to A History of Witchcraft (source 4), there are two good examples of what the old religion was about. One is Aradia: Gospel of the Witches, translated by Charles G. Leland in 1890. This is a collection of materials used by witches in Italy during the late 19th century. The other is West Country Wicca by Rhiannon Ryall. This collection may not be as accurate as she describes the old religion from memory and it pertains mainly to the practices of her own family tradition so is not representative of all forms of witchcraft in England.

There are labels for some witch traditions too. They are:

  • Hereditary or Traditional Witches: Witchcraft goes back many generations. In Hereditary traditions, the knowledge is passed down only to family members. In Traditional, anyone can be initiated and then the knowledge is shared.

  • Hedge Witch: 1. a solitary witch who practices in her home, 2. a herbal healer, 3. the wise woman of a village/town (can be any one of these or a combination)(source 5)

  • Green Witch: Same as a Hedge Witch, with emphasis on the "green" way of living like recycling, solar energy, and other challenges in today’s industrial way of living.(source 6)

  • Elemental Witches: Perform spells and rituals that invoke the elements and/or the elementals.

  • There are other traditions similar to the wiccan ones. Some witches practice fairy magic, some base their practices on the rituals of the gods/goddesses they honor, for example Celtic or Egyptian. Many witches practice a combination of some or all of these.

And now a word about Christian Witches. You are not. Its an oxymoron. Its like someone saying they are a Nazi Jew. The two just don’t go together because one hates the other. Seriously, one has a history of killing the other (remember the Inquisition?). And you really think your Christian friends and family are OK with it? You really think they are accepting of your witchy ways, that you can tell them all about your spell casting and they aren’t secretly planning how they are going to save your soul or how much they will miss you while you are burning in Hell? And I can tell you, based on conversations with others, witches/wiccans do not take you seriously. To us you are a Christian who is trying to rebel but afraid to leave the church. You want in but do not want to commit just in case the Christian God is watching. All witches are pagans, and pagans, by definition, are not Christian.

So I send this song to the offended
I said what I meant and I’ve never pretended
As so many others do, intending just to please
If I damned your point of view
Could you turn the other cheek

~~~~Rhiannon Rose @--^--

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Moon Phases
& Sign

This year I will also include other dates of celestial interest and holidays.

Dark Moon in Capricorn:
January 4 - 4:03am
Solar Eclipse:
January 4 - 3:50am

1st Quarter in Aries:
January 12- 6:31am

Full in Cancer:
January 19 - 4:21pm
Void-of -Course*: 4:26pm
Enters Leo: 5:16pm

Sun enters Aquarius:
January 20 - 5:19am

Last Quarter in Scorpio:
January 26 - 7:57am

Dark Moon in Aquarius:
February 2 - 9:31pm
Imbolc - February 2

Chinese New Year: Feb 3
Year of Rabbit begins

Imbolc Crossquarter day - February 4
(Sun reaches 15° Aquarius)

*Activities begun, or spells performed, when the moon is void-of-course often turn out differently than planned or do not go anywhere. If you plan your spell to harness the full moon, but that moon is motionless in the sky, then your spell will be void-of-course too. Plan your spell to be finished while the moon is still in a sign or begin it when the moon enters the next sign for best results.



Credit and
Butt-Kissing

Llewellyn's Witches Datebook for all moon phases

1. The Witch Book, The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism by Raymond Buckland

2. The Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraft, Second Edition by Rosemary Ellen Guiley

3. The Wicca Handbook by Eileen Holland

4. A History of Witchcraft by John M. Morris, PhD.

5. The Way of the Hedge Witch by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

6. The Way of the Green Witch by Airn Murphy-Hiscock

The Spiral Dance, Special 20th Anniversary Edition by Starhawk

ReligiousTolerance.org A fabulous website containing information on all religions, each written by members of that religion so no judgment, just facts.

SacredTexts.com They scanned and put online many sacred writings that otherwise would be inaccessible to many. A goldmine of information.

Song Quote

Don’t damn me
When I speak a piece of my mind
Cause silence isn’t golden
When I’m holding it inside
Cause I’ve been where I have been
An I’ve seen what I have seen
I put the pen to the paper
Cause its all a part of me

Be it a song or a casual conversation
To hold my tongue speaks
of quiet reservations
Your words once heard
They can place you in a faction
My words may disturb
But at least there’s a reaction

Sometimes I wanna kill
Sometimes I wanna die
Sometimes I wanna destroy
Sometimes I wanna cry
Sometimes I could get even
Sometimes I could give up
Sometimes I could give
Sometimes I never give a f**k

Its only for a while
I hope you understand
I never wanted this to happen
Didn’t want to be a man
So I hid inside my world
I took what I could find
I cried when I was lonely
I fell down when I was blind

But don’t damn me
When I speak a piece of my mind
Cause silence isn’t golden
When I’m holding it inside
Cause I’ve been where I have been
An I’ve seen what I have seen
I put the pen to the paper
Cause its all a part of me

How can I ever satisfy you
An how can I ever make you see
That deep inside we’re all somebody
An it don’t matter who you wanna be
But now I gotta smile, I hope you comprehend
For this man can say it happened
Cause this child has been condemned
So I stepped into your world
I kicked you in the mind
An I’m the only witness
To the nature of my crime

But look at what we’ve done
To the innocent and young
Whoa listen to who’s talking
Cause we’re not the only ones
The trash collected by the eyes
And dumped into the brain
Said it tears into our conscious thoughts
You tell me who’s to blame

I know you don’t wanna hear me crying
An I know you don’t wanna hear me deny
That you satisfaction lies in your illusions
But your delusions are yours an not mine
We take for granted we know the whole story
We judge a book by it’s cover
And read what we want
Between selected lines

Don’t hail me
An don’t idolize the ink
Or I’ve failed in my attentions
Can you find the missing link
Your only validation is in living your own life
Vicarious existence is a f**king waste of time

So I send this song to the offended
I said what I meant and I’ve never pretended
As so many others do intending just to please
If I damned your point of view
Could you turn the other cheek

Don’t damn me when I speak a piece a mind
Cause silence isn’t golden
When I’m holding it inside
I’ve been where I have been
An I’ve seen what I have seen
Put the pen to the paper
Cause its all a part of me
Don’t damn me
I said don’t damn me
I said don’t damn me
Don’t damn me

(spoken at the end)
All right, that sucked!

Don't Damn Me by Guns n' Roses
Use Your Illusion I

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