Wednesday, November 10, 2010

RETAIL: Lost Abbey beer label riles some witches

However, brewer supported by local Wiccan leader

SAN MARCOS ---- The Lost Abbey has landed in a pre-Halloween brouhaha over one of its beers.
Some practitioners of Wicca, also called witches, have criticized the microbrewery's Witch's Wit seasonal beer because its label depicts a woman being burned at the stake. The medieval-themed imagery is offensive, some Wiccans say, because it makes light of their historical persecution.

However, Lost Abbey said the story behind the beer bottle label denounces the intolerance shown to witches. And a local Wiccan leader said he supports Lost Abbey.

Wicca is a nature-based religion. Believers say it has nothing to do with Satanism, a charge often used over the past several hundred years to justify persecution.

"When we did the label, it wasn't like we were condoning it," said Vince Marsaglia, who owns the company with his sister, Gina.

"There's a back part of the label, and I don't know if they (protesters) were reading it or not," Vince Marsaglia said Friday. "I stopped answering the phone. Some of them are really very angry people."
A couple of the protesters even hinted they might retaliate with spells, Marsaglia said. However, he said, one person made a more reasonable complaint that he responded to. And some people have objected to the "political correctness" of the protesters.

Marsaglia said he's open to changing the label illustration, possibly in cooperation with Wiccans. He said nothing has been decided yet, partly because he's not the only decision-maker.
San Marcos resident William Eade, high priest and national director of the First Celtic Wiccan Church Inc., said Lost Abbey is being unfairly attacked.

"I don't see that Lost Abbey bringing out the facts on this is a bad thing," Eade said. "I know the people over there at Lost Abbey, and they're good people."

Religious beers

In keeping with its name, Lost Abbey produces a series of beers with religious themes, such as Devotion, Inferno and Judgment Day.

The back label for Witch's Wit describes burning at the stake as an evil act, and the sin is committed by the crowd that condones the practice:

"I became more fixated on the guilt of the crowd," the text states. "There would surely have been people (the faceless souls) who could have/would have wanted to help. There also would have been some righteous people smug with satisfaction knowing another 'witch' leaving their world. The Point of View for this back story label is about that smugness and righteousness in light of a horrific atrocity against mankind."
Marsaglia said he's a bit mystified by the timing of the criticism. The beer has been sold without protest for three years, he said.

Earlier in October, prominent pagan Vicki Noble sent e-mails denouncing the brew, prompting blog posts and articles across the country, including an article in the New York Times that quoted Noble.

Opponents even set up a Facebook page urging a boycott of Lost Abbey and sister company Port Brewing.
Marsaglia and other Lost Abbey staffers have been busy ever since dealing with the fallout, including phone calls and e-mails.

Brewmaster Tomme Arthur wrote about the uproar on his Lost Abbey blog:

"We have a stack of e-mails asking whether we would show Jews being gassed or African-Americans being lynched. Of course not was our reply," Arthur wrote. "Others seemed to think we were responsible for recent incidents in Darfur as well. It was amazing chain of events to say the least."

Lost Abbey can be reached at http://www.lostabbey.com or by calling 800-918-6816.

Call staff writer Bradley J. Fikes at 760-739-6641. Read his blogs at bizblogs.nctimes.com.

Original Article

Monday, November 8, 2010

History Reveals The Real Story Of Christmas

**** I am publishing this even though I personally am quite disappointed in the History Chanel for the way Pagans are being portrayed in this. - Jasmeine Moonsong***

What better way to gain a better appreciation for the true spirit of Christmas than by learning a little bit more about the holiday’s roots? Later this month, History has a special set to run called The Real Story of Christmas.

The hour-long special will entertain and educate us on some of the customs we’ve come to hold so dear… like a bit of rowdy, rock-throwing caroling! Check out History’s description for the special below. It actually sounds pretty interesting.

“As THE REAL STORY OF CHRISTMAS shows, many of our seemingly innocent customs evolved from strange, surprising or even disturbing beginnings. With its roots in the Pagan celebration of the winter solstice, early Christmas was both a day of prayer and festival of drunken revelry. Rowdy medieval carolers begged for food and drink, threatening to throw rocks through the windows of those who refuse. Christmas was actually banned for years in America during the 16th and 17th centuries. And the Santa of old world legend was accompanied not by elves but by a devil named Krampus who beat and kidnapped naughty children.”

Original Article

Business 'brooming' at new witchcraft shop



TERRITORY witches have finally got somewhere to shop. 

Self-proclaimed "wiccan" Julie Bliss has opened a witchcraft store in Darwin's northern suburbs.
Ms Bliss said business was brooming because Darwin had a thriving wiccan community.

But Muggles wanting a Christmas gift - say, a chalice or bag of herbs - are still welcome at the Casuarina store.

Ms Bliss also stocks gothic stuff just in case the witch trade turns out to be seasonal.

The Hogwarts of Darwin sells everything from wands to potions, with the odd crystal ball and moon diary thrown in.

Ms Bliss, who has been a wiccan for 20 years, said the Shakespearian idea of witches throwing the "eye of newt and toe of frog" into a steaming, black pot was wrong. In fact, witches never do evil because they believe in the "three-fold" principle - whatever you say, think or do comes back to you three-fold.
"If you do bad you're going to cop it."

Original Article

'The Book of English Magic' Reveals the Real Middle Earth

http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/132907-the-book-of-english-magic-by-philip-carr-gomm-and-richard-heygate/The Book of English MagicBy John L. Murphy

Magician means “wise man”. The search for knowledge by which we can control the natural realm and learn scientific mysteries has lured people over millennia. All this time, England stirs such pursuits. Philip Carr-Gomm, a leader in The Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, joins Sir Richard Heygate, a documentarian and author who studies “alternative worlds”, to offer this accessible history, guidebook, and how-to compendium. In a friendly, yet cautious, manner, the writers encourage readers to learn more about the traditions of England, as well as forms invented and revamped by hundreds of thousands of pagans, believers, and “Armchair Magicians” today.

Twelve fast-paced, illustrated and annotated chapters reveal this vast, handsomely produced storehouse of lore. Ancient roots, starting with prehistoric cave-dwellers, dig down into pre-Celtic and Celtic foundations. Saxon sorcerers displace and follow Druids.Their descendants become medieval Catholics with their own complicated relationship to their magical peers. The search for the Grail which they inspired may remind audiences of Indiana Jones, but John Matthews’ enthusiasm for what the Nazis might have handed over to their American interrogators reminds us of how much remains unknown to the average citizen about what a few adventurers report back from the borders.

Banished to the fringes as Protestants extirpated any trace of superstition, witches were persecuted, but far fewer were condemned than some contemporary feminists have claimed. Between 800-2,500 in Scotland were burned at the stake; 400-500 in England were hanged. Half of the latter death toll can be blamed on Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General, a “Puritan fanatic” who held trials in Essex.

Two generations earlier, alchemy intrigued John Dee, Mary Sidney, Robert Fludd and “puffers” close to Elizabethan courtiers. Astrologers, cunning-men (akin to fortune-tellers or psychics today), wizards, Rosicrucians, scryers, Freemasons, Theosophists, Spiritualists, and mediums populate the chronicles of the past 500 years.

Emma Wilby elucidates why our ancestors might have been far more susceptible to charms, spells, potions, and rituals. Undernourishment due to famine, overwork, and fasting weakened the will. Suffering proved the norm when half of children died in infancy. Grief and bereavement altered the consciousness by their intensity. Darkness ruled outdoors and inside people dwelled within timid imaginations. Strong beer instead of tainted water shifted the body into a state where visions, trances, and stupors might haunt the desperate patient or maddened petitioner.

Even if most who feared or welcomed magic lived in isolation, one city grew in its allure. Enduring in its attraction for England’s spiritual and scientific explorers, London, the authors remind us, is better than Cairo or Calcutta, Paris or Prague, for anybody curious about the Craft. Treadwell’s, Atlantis, and Watkins booksellers have long enticed students and practitioners. Occult sites, mapped here in the City and throughout the kingdom, demonstrate how compelling the evidence can be for those who possess the skills and secrets that alert what historian Ronald Hutton estimates may be the one out of every four or five of us who may possess a readiness for magical powers.

Essays by adepts enrich this volume. Adrian, a modern Druid in the Order Carr-Gomm helps to lead, admits how he sometimes asks himself “why I am standing in a field in the middle of the night, covered in sheep shit, but, for me, the spiritual experience of connecting to a sacred place is truly extraordinary.” Contributors often confess their early yearning for more meaning than organized religion or psychotherapies could provide; throughout this book, a calm sense of being at home within this realm pervades their testimonies. Far from the sensationalism of such as Aleister Crowley (who garners half of a chapter), those sharing their motives in these chapters profess an ethical rather than exploitative motive for their alliances with occult, hidden energies.

Brian Bates, a psychologist and shamanistic researcher, laments the superficiality of how magic is treated. “People nowadays will happily read Harry Potter, but are wary of the real stuff.” Vivianne Crowley (“no relation to the infamous Aleister”) tells how the modern pagan religion was invented by Gerald Gardner in the middle of the last century as Wicca. As with Professor Bates, she has a doctorate in psychology. A priestess, she reminds readers how as children, an openness to magic is often shut off when they enter school.

Wiccans try to retrieve an innate connection with the spiritual plane where change can be enacted. She conveys the pleasures of Wicca, but not those that media misunderstand. “Nakedness, which is often dismissed as a license for sexual abandon, is in fact nothing of the kind. Instead it is a symbolic removal of barriers to friendship and intimacy.” The reclamation of what popular culture distorts, while protecting the secrecy of lore and rituals entrusted to true initiates, characterizes many who guard their mystery traditions.

Some still remain anonymous here. One, a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn that once attracted W.B. Yeats as well as a man whom he detested, Aleister Crowley, explains his search “for the mystery of being.” He reasons that magic is both objective and subjective. It is created by the imagination and then takes on its own life; it is real and separate from human beings at the same time.

Few contributors claim, as earlier witches did a few decades ago, to inherit magical skills. Instead, they seek out the few who control them, who create them, and who teach them. One alchemist in Wales tells what he knows, but he remains nameless. Most identify themselves, but caution remains. Carr-Gomm and Heygate warn of the easy lure of spell-casting; the love charm they include should be used to bring love into one’s life, but not a particular lover. For he or she once enticed may turn out to be the bane of one’s existence. Charlatans from Chaucer to now delude unwary newcomers. Plenty of others delude themselves, and certain practices, as the authors explain, are not to be taken up by the perfectionist, the obsessive, or those unable to take on the responsibilities that accompany entry into the Other Side.

Websites, reading lists of novels and manuals, experts, locations, and schools append each chapter. While some oversight may be inevitable (I missed James Blish’s erudite novel on medieval alchemist Roger Bacon, Doctor Mirabilis, and the fiction of J.C. Powys and Iain Sinclair), the authors succeed in navigating between the skeptical and the credulous among those whom they address and whom they include. For those wishing to find out about such lore, such guidance remains necessary. Nigel Pennick, a prolific scholar-practitioner, laments how people “no longer do things because their ancestors did them; it is no longer part of our culture to pass things on to the next generation.”

New generations concoct new practices. Gerald Gardner’s Wicca, Crowley’s “left-handed” manipulations of black magical powers and Dion Fortune’s “right-handed” control of white magic mingle in Tantric traditions. These 20th century characters, even if what some of what they claimed to know may have been invented rather than discovered, helped quicken the contemporary revival of paganism. The repeal of the Witchcraft Act in 1951, Swinging Sixties appeal, and the ecological threats that increased awareness of earth-based religious practices in the ‘80s contribute to the shift in perception among many English people that welcomed pagan or alternative forms of ritual and belief.

Music, touched briefly upon by Carr-Gomm and Heygate, plays a role. “Freemasons prefer classical music and opera, pagans folk rock, Wiccans Gothic music, with Chaos magicians and Thelemites preferring heavy metal and Punk.” Genesis P. Orridge (Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV), with his own movement The Temple ov Psychic Youth and his involvement in Chaos Magic, epitomizes the gender-bending, utterly non-conformist models that confound even fellow magicians. Chaos combines Sufi, Buddhist, medieval, or scientific influences and then discards them, transcending any one belief system’s limits. It regards demons as mental projections, even as it may spark a raw force that may zap those not able to resist such a current. As with other challenging styles addressed in this book, all the same, Carr-Gomm and Heygate offer the neophyte gently phrased words to progress with care, patience, and commonsense into realms where the unwary may be at deep risk.

This sense of adventure, for perhaps more wary seekers, accounts for the rise in public perceptions of esoteric, and formerly shunned or banned, practices. The impact of film and television portrayals of magic, oddly, is absent from this survey. Compared to Margot Adler’s magisterial account of American New Age and neo-pagan movements, Drawing Down the Moon, this English counterpart appears more grounded in the living history which connects the English varieties directly to their dolmens and fields, their hideaways and chambers. This, after all, is the strength inherent in the English magical legacy.

The festivals that fill the English calendar of the ritual year—its two equinoxes, its two solstices, and the four quarter-days adopted from the Celtic reckoning—testify to the enduring power of revived respect for chronological commemorations. While most of the Western world clutches only at Halloween in a degraded form, every six weeks or so, English inheritors of charms and covens look locally for the world that they may not, after all, have lost. If long burned up or buried, it is revived, renewed, and reborn.

This book closes movingly, acknowledging the eclectic, syncretic nature of the corpus of a resuscitated English magical tradition. Deep down, the authors advise, one knows if one or more of the paths sketched in this book may direct one to fulfillment. This magical quest draws on a depth of awareness that contemplation and study may reveal.

Original Article

Friday, October 15, 2010

Going Green this Halloween


The holiday of Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic harvest festival of Samhain. Today it has evolved into a largely secular holiday but as with any holiday or festival, there are always options to be green. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as many as 36.4 million trick or treaters go door-to-door on Halloween among the approximate 106 million occupied housing units in search of treats.

Transport:

It is a no-brainer to do this mass transport sustainably - walking or biking are obvious options with car-pooling also a viable solution. However, I like to think that part of the fun of Halloween is walk around and show off all the fabulous costumes.

Costumes:

There are of course many ways you can become an ethical consumer with Halloween costumes. You can make them yourself with old fabric or using old clothes in your own wardrobe. Using a little imagination and raiding second-hand clothes stores gives you a lot of inspiration when it comes to making your own unique costume. The Salvation Army and many charity shops might even have second-hand costumes on sale. Additionally, renting or borrowing a costume is also a good idea rather than buying one.

Green Halloween® is a non-profit, grassroots community initiative to create healthier and more Earth-friendly holidays, starting with Halloween. It began in the Seattle area in 2007 with backers such as Whole Foods Market and was such a huge success that in 2008, the initiative expanded nation-wide. In cities across the country, volunteer coordinators are turning their city's Halloween holiday healthy and eco-friendly, but many are also raising money for their own, local nonprofit beneficiaries via the initiative. Their websites gives plenty of options for greener costume options like Inhabitots, as well as other ideas on how to make Halloween green.

Make-up:

Stick to non-toxic, chemical free makeup. Check out many sustainable cosmetic brands on how to choose a more ethical brand of make-up. As always read the list of ingredients.

Decor:

When it comes to decor, reuse your old ones, invest in LED lights, use recycled decorations. Support local, smaller decoration makers or make your own. Look to see what the decoration is made off and look for a higher percentage of post-consumer recycled material. Carve your own Jack-O-Lantern, it is biodegradable and eco-friendly. Light it up with a fairtrade beeswax candle.

Candy:

Halloween is definitely not what it is without candy. Instead of candy, why not give away dry fruit or fairtrade chocolate dipped fruit and nuts? Check out organic or fairtrade chocolate options. Buy candy with only natural flavours and no preservatives with lower sugar content - these are also kinder on teeth.

The roots of Halloween is so Nature-based and it still plays an important role in the pagan calender. The modern festival has turned it into something so far removed from what it was. Using these green tips, Halloween can once again become a festival that is the celebration of the natural cycles of the Earth.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Malawi plea to free convicted 'witches'

Eighty mainly elderly people recently jailed in Malawi for up to six years for practising witchcraft should be freed, campaigners say.

George Thindwa from the Association of Secular Humanism told the BBC the convictions were illegal as there was no law against witchcraft.

He said the problem was that many officials were "witchcraft believers".

The justice minister disputed the allegations, saying the justice system was "reputable".

But the BBC's Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre says the widespread belief in witchcraft led the government to set up a committee last year to consider criminalising it.

Under the law as it stands, it is illegal to accuse someone of being a witch


Speedy convictions
 
The public prosecutions office told the BBC that there had been 11 cases brought under the witchcraft act in the last month across the country.

According to their records, this led to the conviction of 61 elderly women, seven elderly men and 18 younger relatives of the other accused. They received sentences of between four and six years in prison for practising witchcraft.

Justice Minister George Chaponda told the BBC that a person could only be found guilty of practising witchcraft if they confessed to being a witch

But our reporter says the records showed all the suspects had pleaded not guilty.

"We are intervening in this matter because we are concerned we still have prisons in Malawi [with] people being accused of being witches," Mr Thindwa told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

"The courts were wrong 100%, [and] the police, to actually accommodate cases."

Most of those recently sentenced were women usually accused by children of teaching them witchcraft.

Mr Thindwa said they were vulnerable, given no support and the accusations and convictions took place very quickly.

He appealed to the chief justice and inspector general of police to inform their staff that witchcraft cases "should not be entertained".

"The problem is that our police and our courts most of them are witchcraft believers and this belief is very strong here in Malawi."

But Mr Chaponda said as far as he was aware, there was not a problem, and he urged those with complaints to come forward.

"I'm happy the minister has invited anybody with evidence to come forward. We have a complete dossier of the cases we are disputing," Mr Thindwa said. "We'll take the dossier to his office immediately."

Original Article

Yale Research Shows Breakthrough Treatment for Heart Patients

 A study by Pamela Miles and researchers at Yale University medical school published in a top level peer-reviewed journal shows non-drug, low-cost, no-risk Reiki Treatment can benefit heart attack patients.

(I-Newswire) New York City/New Haven, October 13, 2010 - In this study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Reiki treatment significantly reduced the emotional stress associated with a heart attack, thereby reducing the risk of a second attack. It is well documented that emotional stress negatively affects autonomic nervous system (ANS) function, and therefore heart disease (ANS controls heart rate).

Additionally, the Reiki treatments improved heart rate variability (HRV), a physiologic measure that indicates if the patient’s body is recovering from the stress response. Usually this increase is achieved through drug intervention (beta blockers) which work slowly and are not well tolerated by some patients. The benefit of the Reiki treatments was comparable to using beta blockers.

This important study shows that Reiki treatment can be offered in an acute-care setting (patients received Reiki treatment within three days after suffering heart). The 20-minute treatments offered to patients by Reiki-trained staff nurses improved the patients subjective mood on all indicators. Patients who feel better have better medical outcomes and are better partners to their health care providers.

Pamela Miles has been advocating the use of Reiki in all fields of medicine for 20 years. She has implemented Reiki programs to bring comfort and healing to patients, families and staff in top New York City hospitals, and taught Reiki in medical schools. Her lectures, classes, articles and her book, REIKI: A Comprehensive Guide, are part of an ongoing commitment to bring Reiki into the mainstream.

Original Article

 

Media needs to stop enabling stigmas

Mandee Kuglin

The Senate is on the verge of change as 37 of the 100 Senate seats are up for election in November. However, one candidate for the senate in Delaware is causing quite a stir. Tea party favored Christine O'Donnell caused an upset when she became the GOP Senate candidate after the primaries. Though I disagree with everything the tea party stands for, my issue with O'Donnell does not revolve around her party affiliations, but rather her idiotic comments.

Ten years ago, O'Donnell was recorded on Bill Maher's show "Politically Incorrect" saying that she had "dabbled in Witchcraft." Now, being that I am Wiccan and have been for 10 years, I was immediately interested and curious to see how someone, a conservative especially, was portraying the religion in the media. However, I was disappointed as I realized that O'Donnell was simply an idiot that continues to perpetuate negative connotations and stereotypes with the religion.

According to a Star Tribune article entitled "Comedian digs up clip of Del. Senate hopeful talking of 'witchcraft'; candidate nixes TV spots," O'Donnell was quoted saying that she had experimented with Witchcraft. What most bothers me about her comments, even if they did occur 10 years ago, is that she gives the wrong impression on the Pagan religion. "'One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar, and I didn't know it. I mean, there's little blood there and stuff like that,' she said. 'We went to a movie and then had a little midnight picnic on a satanic altar.'"

First of all, you cannot "dabble" in a religion. You either believe in it or you don't. Second of all, her comment about her first date with a witch has no basis in the beliefs of Wicca or Paganism. What she is referring to is called Satanism, something that is not at all the same thing as witchcraft. In fact, the idea of Satan or the devil does not even exist in the Wiccan belief system as it is something created within the Judeo-Christian religions.

The media does not do a good job of accurately portraying Pagan religions in any way whatsoever, but this politician is someone that people look up to, which is a scary thought. And though she is crazy and ignorant in my eyes, to other people I am the one who is crazy for believing in a religion that isn't Christianity or Judaism.

I'm not here to argue what belief system makes more sense or which one is true. The point I'm making is that it is ridiculous to allow people like this to continually perpetuate stigma and ignorance. Lately, injustice has been made against the Islamic religion and the media have protested and become active in helping to change public opinion about the religion. But this is never done with Paganism or Wicca, and it should be.

Original Article

Moose Jaw witch irked after seance scuttled

Moose Jaw witch irked after seance scuttled

A self-described witch in Moose Jaw, Sask., says she's outraged that religious groups have pressured a local museum to cancel a Halloween seance.

The Western Development Museum had been planning to hold a fundraiser on Oct. 29 called Ghosts of the Past, at which, for a $30 entry fee, adult participants could learn about ouija boards and "attempt to make contact with the spirits."

The event was cancelled, however, following complaints from religious leaders and residents, some of whom expressed fears the seance would conjure up evil spirits.


But that's ridiculous, says Sarah Dionne, a practising witch and follower of the Wiccan religion.
Wiccans believe the Halloween season — also known as the festival of Samhain — is a favourable time to commune with loved ones in the spirit world, Dionne said.

"To suggest that contacting any sorts of spirits or otherwise unknown forces in the universe is somehow evil … just doesn't make sense," Dionne told CBC News.

She has not called for the seance to be reinstated, however, noting that many Wiccans consider seances and ouija boards to be "parlour games."

Dionne recently wrote to a weekly newspaper to complain about those who would paint "witches and other pagans" in a bad light.

She said she believes the seance debate has stirred up religious intolerance in Moose Jaw, a city of about 32,000, located 75 kilometres west of Regina.

"The whole concept of … evil and the devil, they're not concepts that are in Wicca whatsoever," she said. "There's no worship of the devil or evil things. Any of those stereotypes are absolutely false."

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/saskatchewan/story/2010/10/13/sk-moose-jaw-witch-upset-1010.html#ixzz12LZnAKSB

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Pagan Alliance connects to nature

The Pagan Alliance connects to nature


The word Pagan comes from Latin; it means "country dweller." The term was used derogatorily during the Christian conversion period of ancient Rome to refer to the people in the countryside who still adhered to the old traditions of polytheism, said freshman Kassie Cressall, president of the USU Pagan Alliance president.
  
Cressall said the term today takes on a positive connotation of people connected to nature, an important source of spirituality and inspiration for Paganistic faiths.
  
The USU Pagan Alliance was officially recognized as a club by ASUSU this August.
  
 "I started the group because when I moved from Colorado Springs, suddenly my tribe, my family, went away, the people who thought like me," Cressall said. "It was so important to have people that were on a similar wavelength, I felt that it needed to be started here in Utah in a way that lets people have their different beliefs while still creating a fellowship so they can feel brave about what they believe in and get to know themselves."

    She said there are many myths about Paganism, according to Cressall.

    "The main goal of the group is to educate people about what Paganism is and what it isn't while the other goal is to perform community service to show we are nice people and we do care," she said. "A lot of it will deal with the land, so we will be cleaning trails."

    The Pagan Alliance will have a game booth at the National Coming Out Day celebration at USU partnering with the GLBTA. Also, the group will hold a Samhain Celebration, which is what America knows as Halloween. The event will take place at the Unitarian Universalist church on Halloween night from 6-10 p.m. All students and community members are welcome. There will be a $5 door charge to help pay for food and rental space.

    Modern Halloween traditions such as trick-or-treating came from the tradition of going door to door asking for the spirits of the dead. Bobbing for apples was symbolic as well. Cressall said the water symbolized the underworld while the apples were the bounty of the land, meaning those who successfully bobbed an apple overcame the underworld to live another year.

    "This Halloween date for numerous traditions has been, for many, many years, when you recognize your dead and honor them as well as the change of the year. We will hold a ritual that honors the dead and forces of nature, an ‘old woman winter' personification," Cressall said.

    Pagans celebrate and follow the cycle of the seasons, or equinoxes.

    "There is a wheel of the year that most pagans recognize in one form or another, though the name may be different, but they have the same changes of the seasons," Cressall said.

    Paganism may seem ancient and foreign, but many Christians in the Western world celebrate Pagan holidays like Christmas, Halloween and the New Year. These holidays can be traced to Pagan traditions of the pre-Christian world, Cressall said.

    In ancient Rome, the "country-dwellers" were allowed to keep their traditions, like Yule (now known as Christmas), if they converted to Christianity. Yule was a celebration of the return of the sun and son (of the goddess) and pine trees were decorated as a symbol of life because they remain green all year long, Cressall said.

    Another myth about Paganism is that it is just one religion, Cressall said. Instead, it encompasses all non-Abrahamic religious traditions such as Wicca, Druidism or Celtic Reconstructionism and shamanism from cultures dating back hundreds and hundreds of years like Egyptian, Norse, Roman, American Indian and Irish.

    "People say I've been Pagan my whole life, I just hadn't figured out how to articulate it right. I've been practicing Paganism for six years now," Cressall said.

    Cressall follows Celtic Reconstructionism, which she said takes anthropological and historical evidence to reconstruct how her Welsh and Irish ancestors worshipped and lived, while making it applicable in the modern world.
    "It doesn't mean we go build a hut and go on cattle raids," Cressall said.
    Celtic reconstructionism is also known as Druidism, which Cressall said means "wisdom-keepers." Many modern off-shoots of Paganism are based in Celtic beliefs or traditional Western hermetic magic or ceremonial magic, Cressall said.

    "While I know my family is Welsh and Irish, you don't have to be or know your ancestry to practice, it just helps me connect more, making things applicable to my life," Cressall said.

    "Technically I am not Pagan, I am agnostic meaning I accept all religions, but I don't believe in a particular one. I am leaning towards Paganism due to certain experiences I've had," said senior Tein Millsap.

    During a life-or-death experience a couple of years ago, Millsap said something powerful happened.
    "Out of the darkness came a white tiger and called me an idiot and I woke up. It wasn't until I met Anya (Gibbons) and she told me about Paganism, that I realized it was a shamanistic experience, which I am still researching," Millsap said.

    Anya Gibbons, a junior majoring in journalism and communication, said Shamanism deals with the power of animals, she said. The Shaman draws power from certain animal spirits, like spirit guides of the American Indians.

    Cressall said, "Shamanism is known around the world, and Paganism is traced to shamanic traditions."
    Gibbons said she has been Wiccan since she was 15.

"I am your official witch, but unlike Harry Potter, witches can be both male and female. Wizards and witches are different things, and we are never warlocks," Gibbons said.

    Warlock is a derogatory term meaning rule-breaker, she said, and the word "witch" actually comes from an ancient word that means "holy".

    "People think I am trying to control people's will with spells, but spells are more of just a prayer. My prayers are more flamboyant and accentuated, instead of kneeling by my bed to pray, I have candles and blow stuff into fires," Gibbons said.

    Wicca started around 1965 in England and spread with the American hippie movement, Cressall said. However, she said, Hollywood has somewhat demonized Wiccans.

    "There is no such thing as good or bad witch. That is like asking if you are a good or bad Christian. We are just people. We do not sacrifice animals or eat babies, but we do believe we have divinity in ourselves, the gods aren't above us," Gibbons said.

    Gibbons said the followers believe in a god and goddess.

    "I tend to lean towards the goddess now because I spent the first 15 years of my life worshipping the god, so I think I can now focus on just the goddesses for awhile," Gibbons said. "However, I think for god to really be what god is you need both the male and female together."

    The god and goddess can have many names. Gibbons said a lot of people adopt names from ancient Greek mythology like Demeter for the goddess and Erebus for the god.

    The theme of the god and goddess is found throughout many Pagan cultures, Cressall said.
    "I love the connectivity of everything. The male and female deities are part of each other and nothing without each other," Gibbons said.

    Cressall said, "We need these stories, myths and cycles as humans to make us better people. It is kind of like a kick in the pants to get going."

    Follow the happenings of the USU Pagan Alliance, including the soon-to-be-scheduled Pagan movie night, at their blog, usustudentpaganalliance.wordpress.com.


–  storee.powell@aggiemail.usu.edu

"Wiccans Look Like Us": Novelist Richard Wanderer Discusses Wicca, Christine O’Donnell in Interview

The Holiday Party (A Tale of a Corporate Takeover)"Wiccans Look Like Us": Novelist Richard Wanderer Discusses Wicca, Christine O’Donnell in Interview 

Author of THE HOLIDAY PARTY (A Tale of a Corporate Takeover) responds to a TV commercial of a U.S. Senatorial Candidate.

 Los Angeles, California (PRWEB)

While writing his recent novel, THE HOLIDAY PARTY (A Tale of a Corporate Takeover), Richard Wanderer extensively researched the Wicca religion for a unique aspect of his storyline. His conclusion that wiccans look like anyone contrasts with the implications of U.S. Senatorial candidate, Christine O’Donnell’s TV commercial.

The author stated in a recent interview, “There is a great deal of confusion about the Wicca religion – motion pictures and TV programs have added to these misconceptions. My research has shown me that Wicca has often been mistaken for devil worship. However, it is a naturalist religion that has been around for many centuries and has nothing to do with satanic worship. In fact in my novel, I take the readers through a Manhattan coven meeting where the members look nothing like the classic Halloween witches. They look like everybody else.”

U.S. Senatorial candidate, Christine O’Donnell, in a recent TV commercial in the state of Delaware, sweetly declares, “I am not a witch. I am nothing you’ve heard. I’m you.” This ad dissociates her from witchcraft and implies wiccans appear different than other people. More than a decade ago, on a Bill Maher show, Ms. O’Donnell stated that though she never joined a coven she did date someone who belonged to one. She was spoofed recently on a Saturday Night Live program.

Wanderer, a California attorney, worked for over five decades in the advertising departments of major magazines and newspaper chains in New York City and Los Angeles. He wrote this contemporary fictional suspense novel that deals with the takeover of an ethical and benevolent family owned national magazine by a huge media conglomerate that immediately imposes its own draconian regime. Some of the novel’s characters are members of a New York City coven. Kirkus Discoveries has called this novel, “A sharply observed saga of workplace tyranny … the author really knows his territory.” Anita Finley, a columnist for the Miami Herald and publisher of her own magazine has called it, “A real page turner.” The website for THE HOLIDAY PARTY (A Tale of a Corporate Takeover) is http://www.theholidayparty-ataleofacorporatetakeover.com. It is available at Amazon.com, via special order at major bookstores and it is now on Kindle, too.

Original Article

Author Gregory Branson-Trent Latest Release Explores Wicca and Witchcraft in "The Witch’s Spell Book"

Author Gregory Branson-Trent Latest Release Explores Wicca and Witchcraft in "The Witch’s Author Gregory BraSpell Book"

Author Gregory Branson-Trent’s latest release takes on the spell casting of Wicca, Witchcraft. The Witch’s Spell Book takes you through an instructional journey into the world of spell construction. In this book you will find everything you need to construct a Book Of Shadows, learn lessons on spell construction and receive a base collection of hundreds of spells to get a beginner started.

New York, NY, October 08, 2010 --(PR.com)-- This book is unique because of the grouping of information contained within. Included are: hundreds of spells, potions, incense recipes, and oil recipes with their uses. The spells range from Healing to Protection, Wealth, Astral Projection, Consecration, Purification, Cleansing, Binding, Sleeping, Emotional Well Being, Psychic, Weather, Shielding, Love, Contacting the Dead and many more. Overall this book offers a comprehensive look into the world of Wicca and Spell Casting.

For further information, and orders, visit Gregory Branson-Trent’s web site www.gregorybranson-trent.com. Click on the cover of the book for information and ordering.

Gregory Branson-Trent currently resides in New York. He has been a published author for sixteen years. His releases include: Magick: Wicca, Witchcraft, and the Book of Shadows, The Witch’s Spell Book, The Book Of Magickal Studies, Vampires Among Us: The Children Of The Night, Runes: A Guide To Divination Uses And Magick Uses, The Unexplained: Amelia Earhart, Bermuda Triangle, Atlantis, Aliens, And Ghosts, The Encyclopedia Of Magick And The Occult and more. Also visit Amazon.com for a full line of Kindle books.
 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pagans come out to Pagan Pride Day LA/OC despite heat

Pagans come out to Pagan Pride Day LA/OC despite heat

Joanne Elliott

 Despite temperatures that reached nearly 106 F Sunday, 1269 people came out to enjoy rituals, workshops and shopping at Pagan Pride Day LA/OC at the Whittier Narrows recreation area in El Monte.

Pagans and people curious to know what it is all about walked around the large area filled with merchants and spiritual organizations. Many took cover under big trees or lay prostrate on the cool grass.
At one point the direction of the stage was changed so chairs could be moved to a shady spot. Belly dancers in elaborate costumes danced to gothic rhythms by Kardia Mortis, the League of Vampiric Bards shared their poetry, and Devon Kouadio danced for the ocean honoring Yemaya.

The main ritual called “A ritual for Global Transformation and Healing” by Raven’s Cry Grove drew a large crowd. They helped many connect to the earth and took worshippers on a trance journey to help to heal it.
Merchants, like the Little Old Bookshop and Witchcraft Music, said they didn’t do as well this year. They cited the economy as a factor as well as the extreme heat. The blazing temperature was helpful to one merchant, though. The food booth sold out of many flavors of snow cone flavoring.
Over all, people seemed to be enjoying themselves and there was only one incident due to the heat. One woman fainted during the opening ritual, but recovered in the shade with water and rest.

Total weight for the food donations is not available yet, but Gina Leslie, President/Volunteer Coordinator of Pagan Pride LA, Inc., said that the food filled up the back of a pickup truck. The parks employees took the food back to their office to await pick up by the LA Food Bank. Martha Moreno of the LA County Parks and Recreation Department coordinated the department’s support efforts. Gina said “the people who work with her are so good to us! We've been doing our event there for 8 years and they really help us out during the day, emptying the trash bins and keeping the restrooms clean and stocked with paper. When they have time, they even shop our vendors and talk to people to find out what we're all about.”

 Original Article

Pagan group invites, trys to raise awareness

Pagan group invites, trys to raise awareness


In a region marginally dominated by Christianity, one Texas Tech student organization focuses on changing the traditional, stereotypical perceptions of Paganism.

A perhaps lesser-known religious group on campus, Tech Pagan Student Union often faces misconceptions about their beliefs from peers.

Like many student groups on campus, the group has weekly meetings, guest speakers, volunteer projects and social gatherings.

"We're not big scary witches with giant black cauldrons," said the group's president, Sarah Mann. "We're actual people out in the community and we're helping. We're people with faith, as many people are."
The organization has two discussions each month on metaphysical topics, generally at 7 p.m. the first and third Mondays of the month in the Student Union Building, said Mann, a senior psychology major from Houston.
They also hold a tarot card reading study group on campus, she said. This way, members seeking certification, in order to read in public places like psychic fairs, can pass the exams with ease.

Currently, the group has about 15 active members, Crystal Baker, the vice president and secretary of the organization, said.

"We formed to give a support group for people who identify themselves as pagans on campus," she said. "(The group is for) people who want to get together and express religious ideas and ideas about life in general from the viewpoint of someone who considers themselves a Pagan."

Pagan Student Union also has members who are agnostics and atheists but are spiritual, said Baker, a graduate student from Dallas studying mechanical engineering.

Baker described Paganism as a broad term for any nature-based religion, such as Wicca, Druid or some Native American belief systems.

"I'm personally agnostic now," Baker said. "Christianity never felt right for me. I found Wicca a little bit in high school and experimented with that. A lot made sense but didn't feel right. I liked Paganism…I liked the people I associated myself with around Paganism."

Aside from community service like the Adopt-a-Highway program and volunteering at the Haven no-kill animal shelter, Pagan Student Union participates in National Pagan Pride Day, said Baker. This year's celebration is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Clapp Park, near the intersection of 46th Street and Avenue W.

"The goal (of Pagan Pride Day) is to encourage diversity and to eliminate prejudices and discrimination based off of religion," said Aaron Brocklehurst, program coordinator for quality service and professional development at Tech and the advisor for Pagan Student Union.

This year, the national event, Brocklehurst said, will feature presentations covering topics from collegiate Paganism through Slavic Paganism. He encourages students of all religious backgrounds to attend and experience something new.

"The best way to learn about a religion or a belief system that is different than yours is to come and talk about it, and we'll give you an idea of what it's about," Brocklehurst said. "It's held every September throughout the nation."

Pagan Pride Day opens with a traditional ritual and will also include a noon ritual and a greenman march.
The rituals are very elaborate and interesting, said Brocklehurst. Vendors will sell candles, incense, potions and homemade items.

Also available for sale will be books, herbs, cloaks, pendulums, crystal balls and anything else "associated with occult supply," Mann said.

One unique item for sale is the "spell kits" Mann said the organization sold for a fundraiser last year. They consist of a candle, a piece of charcoal, an herb mixture and a written spell for things like prosperity, relaxation and happiness.

But, Mann said, the spells do not necessarily come true after reciting them; the process is more of a first step to achieving a goal.

"Many people think, ‘If I buy this and do exactly as it says, it's going to happen,'" Mann said. "But it's a mental jump between thinking you want to take a step and taking the step with your foot. It's putting the will power behind it."

Pagan Pride Day is a free event, but attendants are asked to bring cans of non-perishable food to donate to South Plains Food Bank, Mann said.

"I would encourage people to come out because it's a fun event," Brocklehurst said. "You'll get to see a lot of cool things that you may not see every day in local stores. It's a good way to learn about other belief systems and religions and embrace diversity."

Original Article

Banned Books Week: The 'Harry Potter' Series

Banned Books Week: The 'Harry Potter' Series

Steven Bryan 

The "Harry Potter" series, first published in 1998, is featured by the American Library Association for Banned Books Week, which runs this year from Sept. 25 to Oct. 2.

Since infancy, Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling's fictional boy wizard, has been facing attacks from Lord Voldemort, a wizard so evil that few characters dare speak his name. In addition to death threats from Voldemort and his followers, young Mr. Potter also has come under fire from concerned parents, educators and religious leaders.

According to the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF), which has been tracking challenges to objectionable books since 1990, the entire Harry Potter series ranks No. 1 on the "Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009." The OIF defines a challenge as a formal, written complaint about a book or series that contains "objectionable material."

Rowling wrote much of the first book, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," while sitting in Edinburgh's Elephant House coffee shop. On his 11th birthday, Harry, a good-hearted boy raised by horrible relatives, learns that his late parents actually were a well-respected witch and wizard. Harry's mom even sacrificed her life to save her son from Lord Voldemort.

Now aware of his true heritage, Harry travels to Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to control his magical abilities and train for his future career.

In reality, magic is only one part of the "Harry Potter" series. Rowling's books focus more on embracing good over evil, doing the right thing and being brave in bad situations. The books deal with a lot of teenage angst and school crushes.

Yet, magic is frequently the reason that the Harry Potter series is challenged and banned. On the Infoplease website, head teacher Carol Rockwood of St. Mary's Island Church of England School gave the reasons why the school banned the book.

"The Bible is very clear and consistent in its teachings that wizards, devils and demons exist and are very real, powerful and dangerous and God's people are told to have nothing to do with them," Rockwood said.

In 2006, the Associated Press reported that Laura Mallory, a mother of four in Georgia, wanted the Gwinnett County Board of Education to ban the books, saying that the series is "an 'evil' attempt to indoctrinate children into the Wicca religion." The school board later rejected Mallory's challenge, and Harry and his friends were allowed to stay on book shelves throughout the school district.

Despite the furor over the books, the Harry Potter series is still extraordinarily popular. As CBS News reported in the summer of 2007, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the book that Rowling called the finale of the series, sold 8.3 million copies in the United States during the first 24 hours it was available for sale.

Original Article

A Time to Reap: Fall Equinox Events Around the World

A Time to Reap: Fall Equinox Events Around the World

By: Molly Mann

Fall is definitely my favorite time of year. When the summer heat breaks and the air becomes crisp, there’s a sense of starting fresh, reflecting on the past season, and looking forward to the future. I can understand why so many cultures celebrate the autumn equinox, which marks the first day of fall, every September. Whether it’s called Mabon or the Autumn Moon Festival, the start of this new season is certainly an auspicious occasion.

Autumn in Balance
The word “equinox” comes from the Latin √¶quinoctuium, which itself came from √¶quus (“equal”) and nox (“night”): “equal night.” It refers to the twenty-four-hour period—which occurs twice a year, in spring and fall—in which there are twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of night, according to ReligiousTolerance.org. However, the experts at TimeandDate.com reveal this idea of the day and night being perfectly in balance during the equinox as a myth: during the autumn equinox, they write, the lengths of night and day are nearly, but not entirely, equal, because the sun takes longer to rise and set in places farther away from the equator.

The equinox really refers to the time, twice each year, when the sun crosses the celestial equator and moves southward in the northern hemisphere. The earth’s axis of rotation is then perpendicular to the line connecting the centers of the earth and the sun. The 2010 fall equinox will occur at exactly 7:09 p.m. (PST) and 10:09 p.m. (EST) on September 22.

A Bewitching Celebration 

Perhaps the best-known tradition surrounding the fall equinox in the United States is that of the neopagans, mostly Wiccans. Wicca is loosely based on ancient Celtic beliefs, symbols, and practices, with the addition of more recent Masonic and ceremonial magic, according to ReligiousTolerance.org. Wiccans view time as circular—as opposed to the linear time of monotheistic religions—and the equinoxes are part of the solar (yearly) cycle.

The autumn equinox, usually called Mabon (after the Welsh god of the harvest), is the second and main Wiccan harvest festival. Wiccans may celebrate Mabon the evening before, at sunrise on the day of, or at the exact time of the equinox. As witch and Wicca expert Dianne Schure explains, “Modern pagans (and I’m using that term as a catchall) are a group with sufficiently varied traditions. Not all of them would celebrate in the same way.”

Corn Dollies and Burning Men
Burning Man, in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert (also known as the Playa), is a large annual event that stems from the neopagan equinox tradition (though most “Burners” wouldn’t consider themselves witches). Burning Man’s website warns, “Trying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind.” But Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, a well-respected member of the Wiccan community, according to Schure, writes in Creating Circles & Ceremonies that Burning Man has its roots in the European custom of the corn dolly, a man-shaped doll fashioned from the last sheaf of harvested grain. Traditionally, the spirit of the grains resided in the doll, which members of the community dressed up in nice clothes and addressed by name. They then burned the doll to release the spirit, amid much rejoicing. Sometimes the spirit of the grain was released by burning a large wickerwork effigy, much like the eponymous Burning Man sculpture that’s the focal point of the Burning Man festival each year.

A Time to Reflect 

For Japanese Buddhists, the spring and fall equinoxes are both six-day celebrations (three days before and three days after the equinox itself), called the Higan-e. Higan means “other shore” in Japanese, and the six days represent the six perfections—giving, observance of the precepts, perseverance, effort, meditation, and wisdom—needed to transition from samsara (the cycle of death and rebirth in the material world) to nirvana (a transcendent state of perfect happiness).

During the six days of each equinox, observers of the holiday repent for past sins and pray for enlightenment in the next life. They also take time to remember the dead and to pay visits to family graves. Since the equinoxes are supposedly the most temperate times of the year, Japanese Buddhists regard them as ideal moments to reflect on the meaning of life, according to ReligiousTolerance.org.

Harvest Moon

Outside the United States, the largest fall equinox celebration happens in China: the Autumn Moon Festival. Within the United States, Chinatowns—like the one in San Francisco, California—explode with celebrations during this ancient holiday to mark the beginning of autumn, the bounty of the summer harvest, and the full moon.

During the Moon Festival, the Chinese eat moon cakes, of which there are many variations. According to MoonFestival.org, the Guangzhou version, which is the type Westerners know, is a round or square cake, filled with sweet lotus paste and salted duck eggs, with a soft, golden-brown exterior. The cake is customarily cut into quarters, thus causing the yolk to resemble a full moon.

According to one of many legends, the moon cake was invented as a way to honor the moon goddess, Chang-Er (sometimes, Chang-E). Because the moon represents yin, the female principle in Chinese philosophy, women take center stage during the Moon Festival.

To Everything, There Is a Season

’Tis the season for autumnal equinox festivals around the world and across cultures. Even if you celebrate by catching summer’s last rays or digging your winter clothes out of storage, know that you’re part of an age-old international tradition of welcoming the first day of fall.

 Original Article

Candace H. Lehrman White, 73: Was public face of paganism as Lady Sintana

Candace H. Lehrman White, 73: Was public face of paganism as Lady Sintana

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 

n Atlanta, Candace Lehrman White was known simply as "The Lady."

Ravenwood Church Candace Lehrman, who as Lady Sintana founded Atlanta's Ravenwood Church and Seminary of Wicca, the first Wiccan church granted tax-exempt status in Georgia, has died.

Across the country, she was considered the person who shattered legal barriers and opened minds to the practice of paganism.
In 1975, Mrs. White, aka Lady Sintana, founded Ravenwood Church, the state's first pagan congregation. By 1982, the high priestess had successfully challenged the IRS and Ravenwood became one of the first Pagan congregations in the country to be granted tax-exempt status as a church.

It was significant work, said her husband, David John White, aka Lord Merlin, the Elder High Priest of  Ravenwood, now located in Johns Creek.

"Her mission in life was to bring respect and legality to the pagan religion," he said. "She not only won legal battles, but she won over hearts as well. Her main idea was not to convert people but to have some venue where people could learn the truth."

Recently, Candace H. Lehrman White, 73,  had resided with her daughter in western North Carolina. She died Sept. 17 from complications of lung cancer.  A public memorial will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 2 at Gala Special Events, 3760 Lower Roswell Road, in Marietta.

Born on a Kansas dairy farm, Mrs. White moved from Buffalo, N.Y., to Atlanta to nurse an ill friend. She stayed and elected to follow her father into ministry but as a high priestess of Wicca, not in the Baptist faith.
It was 1978 when Mr. White met the former burlesque dancer, shortly after she'd started Ravenwood in a Victorian house on Moreland Avenue. Four years later, the couple married and embarked on a shared a mission to educate people about Wiccans and Pagans. Wicca is a pre-Christian, nature-centered matriarchal religion from Western Europe that dates back more than 800 years to the Celts.


“We wanted to let people know that we worked with nature as opposed to drinking a chicken’s blood and things like that,” her husband said. “We did a great bit of outreach, not necessarily about the belief but an understanding of it.”

In 1996, Mrs. White left Atlanta and settled first in California and later in Washington state. She and her husband were married 28 years. Five years ago, he moved to Ball Ground in Cherokee County.
“When she moved, we were always in contact two or three times a week,” her husband said. “She was a very strict disciplinarian and she caused controversy, but through controversy came truth. She had extraordinarily high principles and was very successful.”

Judy Clouse met Lady Sintana 30 years ago.

“She set the standards high and demanded we work to the best of our abilities,” said Mrs. Clouse, aka Lady Astraea. “She was very charismatic and dynamic.”

In a 1996 article that appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the witch queen explained her departure: “I think Ravenwood has come to the point where it has to grow beyond myself,” she said. “I think the elders there are strong enough.... My interest is still in keeping the old tradition alive.”
Survivors other than her husband and daughter include one grandson.

Original Article

Local Wiccans Disavow Christine O'Donnell at Pagan Pride Day

Local Wiccans Disavow Christine O'Donnell at Pagan Pride Day

There was no Satanic altar. There was no blood. There was no animal sacrifice. And as far as I could tell from talking to people at the Pagan Pride Day Celebration Picnic, held this weekend at the at Unitarian Universalist Church in Fort Lauderdale, there was nobody who believed anything Christine O'Donnell, the Delaware Republican candidate for Senate, had to say about "witchcraft."

Last week, Bill Maher showed decade-old footage of O'Donnell, a Tea Party favorite, appearing on the show Politically Incorrect, claiming that she "dabbled into witchcraft" but "never joined a coven." She said she once had a date on a "Satanic altar," replete with blood and "stuff like that."

Pagan Pride Day attendees were adamant that O'Donnell had no idea what she was talking about.


Though O'Donnell's old statements have received a lot of attention, the credibility of her remarks has received almost no serious examination.

Clearly whatever O'Donnell believed herself to be was not a witch by its modern "eco-feminist" or "neopagan" definitions. Any mention of the Christian devil, or Satan, immediately dissociates O'Donnell's brand of "witchcraft" from modern Wicca -- Wiccans/witches do not believe in the Christian devil, let alone construct altars to him.

Is she lying about her history? In the clip, O'Donnell specifically says, "I'm not making this stuff up." And, in another appearance on the same show, O'Donnell made clear her feelings on lying: She said if she were housing Jews in Nazi Germany during World War II and Hitler asked her about it, she would tell the micromustached dictator the truth.

But if they are true, her experiences were nothing like those of the people at the Unitarian church Saturday afternoon.

There was a canned food drive, a bake sale, several vendors selling metal jewelry depicting Wiccan images, and ironic T-shirts. There were families picnicking and a band playing covers of the UK group Inkubus Sukkubus. There were "psychic" readings and henna tattoos and face-painting and storytelling for the kids. A few women walked barefoot in the nearby labyrinth.

Most people didn't want to spoil the good mood by discussing O'Donnell. One woman, though, was outspoken on the topic.

"I think that she's an idiot," said a woman in her mid-20s wearing a long, floral-print skirt. "This is sad for America: If [O'Donnell] practiced witchcraft as an alternate religion, who cares? Why are we so obsessed with other peoples' personal beliefs anyway?"

She went on: "It seems to me that O'Donnell perhaps 'dabbled' in Satanism, and not witchcraft at all, or else something concocted by a lonely and unstable teenager in order to feel powerful. I don't believe Christine O'Donnell is or was a witch -- perhaps just something that rhymes with it."

Original Article

Thursday, September 2, 2010

IN THE KITCHEN WITH: Dale Orlando

IN THE KITCHEN WITH: Dale Orlando

Medium and healer offers to help people find themselves, By Laurie Gordon

Dale Orlando is a psychic medium and intuitive healer.
A resident of Stillwater, Orlando said she has been clairvoyant her whole life.

She grew up in River Edge and attended River Dell High School. She had a long career in the wholesale travel industry as a sales representative for major travel companies on the East Coast.

In 1993, she began to cultivate her psychic abilities and studying to become a Reiki Master. In 1996, she studied with a Cherokee Mystic in Sedona, Arizona and was given the name “Goldenfeather.”

Orlando’s studies continued at the Edgar Cayce Association for Research and Enlightenment as she became a Certified Therapeutic Energy Healer.

Orlando said she assists people on their journey toward their soul contract — the reason for this life time. She said there is a human energy field which contains information to heal a person in mind, body and spirit. “When people neglect their spiritual life and there is disregard for the divine, they shut themselves off to their own highest good,” Orlando said. “Mankind will never achieve happiness or fulfillment in the material world. This can only be achieved through spirit.”

Orlando said, “People today are open and receptive to the voice of spirit and the work I provide. As we watch the failing economy, fractured tectonic plates, and hatred among our brothers does anyone ask why or how? Do we blame others? Or do we look within ourselves for our own answers?” Through energy work, and intuitive healing and readings Orlando said she helps people discover their own truth and stay aligned and balanced.

“Be nice to your neighbor,” she said. “You may need his help sooner than you realize.”

For information about Orlando’s services, visit www.goldenfeatherhealing.com or call 862-268-4881.

Dale-icioius Black Bean and Corn Salsa
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup frozen corn (thawed)
15 oz. can black beans (rinse and drain)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
1/2 cup red pepper (diced)
3 scallions (diced)
Juice of one fresh lime
2 Tbl balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
DIRECTIONS:
Mix and serve


Original Article
Orlando’s studies continued at the Edgar Cayce Association for Research and Enlightenment as she became a Certified Therapeutic Energy Healer.

Orlando said she assists people on their journey toward their soul contract — the reason for this life time. She said there is a human energy field which contains information to heal a person in mind, body and spirit. “When people neglect their spiritual life and there is disregard for the divine, they shut themselves off to their own highest good,” Orlando said. “Mankind will never achieve happiness or fulfillment in the material world. This can only be achieved through spirit.”

Orlando said, “People today are open and receptive to the voice of spirit and the work I provide. As we watch the failing economy, fractured tectonic plates, and hatred among our brothers does anyone ask why or how? Do we blame others? Or do we look within ourselves for our own answers?” Through energy work, and intuitive healing and readings Orlando said she helps people discover their own truth and stay aligned and balanced.

“Be nice to your neighbor,” she said. “You may need his help sooner than you realize.”

For information about Orlando’s services, visit www.goldenfeatherhealing.com or call 862-268-4881.

Dale-icioius Black Bean and Corn Salsa
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup frozen corn (thawed)
15 oz. can black beans (rinse and drain)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
1/2 cup red pepper (diced)
3 scallions (diced)
Juice of one fresh lime
2 Tbl balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
DIRECTIONS:
Mix and serve

Original Article 

Pagan Pride Day to offer Utahns a peek at secretive but growing community

Pagan Pride Day to offer Utahns a peek at secretive but growing community 
They wear multicolored robes in a highly choreographed ritual. They read from sacred texts. They sing their praise, chant their truths and hoist their hands to the sky. They kneel before heaven’s mystery.
Though their worship includes elements from early Christianity, these practitioners are not Christians. They are pagans.

And they are part of a growing body of believers who have moved away from monotheistic faiths such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam into the wide world of syncretic spirituality.

More than a million Americans now practice some form of Wicca, or traditional witchcraft, Ceremonial Magick, Hermeticism, Shamanism, Asatru (German/Nordic religion), African religion such as Voodoo and Shamanism, according to patheos.com, a multifaith website. 

Unfortunately, modern pagans often are secretive about their beliefs, fearing ridicule or, worse, outright discrimination.

“It isn’t usually the most blatant bashing,” says Russell Erwin, a member of the Ordo Gnostic Templar that meets once a month at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Salt Lake City. “You just won’t get called back for a job or people don’t want to talk to you because they think you’re crazy.”

Such avoidance is a “big mistake,” says Erwin, acting as a spokesman for the state’s pagans. “We all have a lot to learn from each other.”

And so Utah’s burgeoning pagan community is doing what other groups do to oppose bigotry and bring their faith into the open. It is sponsoring the ninth annual Salt Lake City Pagan Pride Day on Sept. 11 at Murray Park.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

People find spirituality outside the mainstream

People find spirituality outside the mainstream

 Traditional churches just one way we seek out answers, say experts

By Walter Cordery, The Daily News

Bob Lane believes people are searching for more than traditional answers to their spiritual needs.
Canadians are more often looking away from traditional western religions to fulfill those needs.
Lane understands why events like Saturday's Pagan Pride Day are attracting more and more people every year and why a growing number of young people are not attending traditional churches.
Rev. Brian Evans of St. Paul's Anglican Church can't put his finger on why, but agrees a growing number of people in British Columbia are looking elsewhere for spiritual fulfilment.

"All the indicators tell us that we (B.C.) have the highest percentage of people in North America who do not participate in traditional Christian Church practices," Evans said.

Statistics Canada calls the number of people attending traditional church service "religiosity" and in Canada low levels of religiosity are most prevalent in British Columbia. But Lane, a former Vancouver Island University philosophy and religious studies professor, said that doesn't stop people from seeking spiritual fulfilment in their lives.

People have always "had a hunger for some understanding of who they are, why they are here and what it is all about," said Lane.

Kam Abbott, a Wiccan priest with Nanaimo's Temple of the Green Cauldron, said the number of those seeking answers who have turned to Earth-based religions, like Wicca, have grown immensely.
"The pagan community encompasses all the other subgroups in the area, like Shinto and Wiccan, there's about 1,000 people now," he said.

"In our view, pagan means anybody who is not Christian, Muslim or Jewish. We are definitely growing, there are Wiccan churches and temples springing up all over the Island."

Lane is not surprised that new generations are seeking new answers. Regardless of the religious dogma, many people need spirituality in their lives.

"There are people looking for spiritual growth in their lives, but not necessarily religion," said Evans.
Today's easy travel to other areas and the popularity of the Internet have opened up new paths for those seeking spiritual fulfilment to travel, said Abbott and Wiccan priestess Sally Kimber.

Now in its sixth year, Nanaimo Pagan Pride Day continues to reflect a growing pagan community on central Vancouver Island and across North America.

"The growing numbers are no surprise," said Abbott. "Earth-based religions are just that. We hold the Earth as something sacred and as something that should be protected. With recent environmental catastrophes such as the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, global climate change, the Great Pacific garbage patch and dozens of others in the media recently, consciousness has been shifting towards the impact we have on this fragile sacred sphere we all share."

Paganism, say both Abbott and Kimber, represents a tangible belief that people can touch and feel.
"I think there are a lot of confused and frightened people out there and they are searching for something real that they can believe in," said Kimber.
"We live in complicated times and for some people it makes sense for them to revert back to something that is simple and Earth-based."

Evans understands some peoples' need to look outside the scriptures to seek spiritual fulfilment but is confident that the "Christian" way is the way most people will find it.

"There are people looking for spiritual growth in their lives, but not necessarily that of traditional religion," he said.

Evans said the broadening of peoples' perspectives through travel and the Internet has many former churchgoers looking elsewhere.

"It's a much more inclusive world than it used to be and I believe that is one of the biggest challenges facing traditional Christian churches."

Abbott said people are realizing that they are one with nature.

"This is something that Earth-based, or pagan religions, have always held as one of their highest moral priorities. But for pagans, that moral is interwoven with our spiritual practice," he said.
For Lane, spirituality is not "that complicated, really."

Understanding the need for people to work together and believing in a common outcome is as simple as looking at a sports team like the Vancouver Island Raiders.

The root of spirituality is spirit, Lane said, and it can be equated to "team spirit," like that of the Raiders and the Nanaimo Clippers.

"People need to connect with something that's more than the individual. Some reach out to sacred text that has a vocabulary they are familiar with," he said.

"But you can't measure the Raiders' team spirit, in real terms, except by their play. And you can't measure an individual's spirituality except by his or her play and what they do in their lives."

Regardless of affiliation -- whether Christian or pagan -- rituals play an important part in peoples' lives. It could be the pagan worshipping the sun as it rises on the solstice or the Catholic taking communion and symbolically partaking of the body and blood of Christ, said Lane.

"What makes them more powerful, regardless of religion, is that they are done in a group rather than by just an individual," he said.

WCordery@nanaimodailynews.com

RELIGION IN B.C.
British Columbians are the least likely in Canada to be religious, numbers from Statistics Canada suggest.
Canada: 2004 -- 19% of the population had no religious affiliation and 25% had an affiliation but did not attend religious services
B.C.: 2004 -- 36% had no religious affiliation and 21% had an affiliation but did not attend religious services.

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