Monday, March 29, 2010

"Psychic Talk" Radio with Sacramento Clairvoyant Sharon Sampsel

"Psychic Talk" Radio with Sacramento Clairvoyant Sharon Sampsel 

Jacqueline Mathers

Sharon Sampsel waves from the window of the midtown Sacramento Chinese restaurant that we agreed to meet at with enthusiasm to share. A long time Sacramento favorite psychic and East Sacramento resident, Sharon is a frequent exhibitor at the local metaphysical fairs. After hugs and kisses all around, Sharon begins with a story about running into an old friend from her motorcycle days – this tall drink of bubbly blonde with a Texas drawl a biker chick? Whaaaat? Biker Psychic. We’re in for a good time now.

Sharon came into her intuitive facilities at a young age, although I can imagine her being precocious in her Bible belt upbringing making the church ladies flick their fans a little faster. When getting a reading with Sharon, she bares bones and lays waste to any fantasies that you might be conjuring about a clairvoyant. Her readings are for everyone, and rightly so. She gives you exactly what is going on without sprinkles of little fairy sunshine. This is not gloom and doom; Sharon gives you whole hearted intuitive messages and strategies to get through the psychic “junk” . Sharon describes herself as “a clairvoyant, clairaudient, clairsentient. All this means is I see, hear, and feel Spirit. As a reader I believe that the reading should focus on the person getting a reading. So just ask me a question and I'll tell you what I see. I have a 85 to 95 percent accuracy rate and am known for my quick thinking, to the point, funny, accurate and very, very honest readings.” I should know, as I have seen things come true for items she mentioned to me in the past. Without pause, she informs my college student daughter that tagged along for lunch, that she has a serious relationship coming ‘by summer’. Are you sure this Mommy wants to hear this, Sharon? She chuckles.


So I ask her about her spirituality, especially coming from such a different background. Sharon tells me, “My spirituality is of a Mystic. This means that I follow all paths to enlightenment. I am probably more in alignment with the Buddhist beliefs but really love the Pagan practices. I believe that all practices are basically teaching the same things. It's all just said in different ways. I do not practice any religious dogma. Never saw any reason too. I probably follow the harm none, law of attraction rules most.” This attractive grandma will be dying eggs for the grandbabies to hunt this upcoming Easter holiday, as her family is very important to Sharon.


Our food arrives and I ask Sharon how did she become a Psychic and how did she know this was her calling. Sharon laughs and tells me, “I have been a practicing psychic for over 20 years now and a professional one for 20 years. I don't know who was more surprised with my gift -- my teachers or myself. I have always been psychic. Just raised in the Bible belt where everything is GOD! My family is very spiritual. Out of 8 children, 3 of us are ministers. All of us are psychic. Just my sister and I are the only ones to embrace it. I got the talent and she got the desire. No child wants to grow up to be a professional psychic. Those of us that are any good do so because it is our path.”


So I ask Sharon, is the life and times of a Psychic as positive and bubbly as Sharon’s personality is, or is there days that she would rather not play? Besides not liking to have to do exorcisms, Sharon tells me, “What I hate about my gift is seeing the really ugly things in life. I prefer to help everyone work through their emotional crap so that they can achieve spiritual growth. I talk to the dead, pets, spirit, etc. I look at the past, now and other lives, the present and future. I can focus on whatever you want be it a job, family, love, money, etc.”.


Sharon works her schedule around her clients as she has a worldwide following. “ I read as far away as Malaysia. I have clients from all over the world that come and see me when in Sacramento.”, says Sharon, polishing off another wonton.


Longitivity in working with clients is Sharon’s affirmation that she is doing the work that she was placed on Earth to do. “I have been making my living at this for 20 years so I must be good. I spent 10 years at the East West Bookstore and 5 years at Planet Earth Rising. Right now I read at many of the fairs and expos in the northwest. I am starting to read all over the country. “


So I dare to ask, what is in store for Sharon in her future? “I have a radio show on the Voice of Sacramento (www.accesssacramento.org) on Wednesday evenings between 7 and 8 pm called “Psychic Talk”, where I interview local psychics and delve into things like aliens and the paranormal and I have a television show currently in production called “Double Vision”.”


You can contact Sharon by visiting her website at
http://www.PsychicReadingsBySharonSampsel.com or call her at (916) 451-4014

Original Article

Review: Keegan Theatre's 'Dancing at Lughnasa'

Dancing at Lughnasa: A PlayReview: Keegan Theatre's 'Dancing at Lughnasa'

By Nelson Pressley
Tuesday, March 30, 2010  

Five adult sisters in a small Irish kitchen, their spirits dreadfully underfed: That's the landscape of Brian Friel's exquisite "Dancing at Lughnasa," a clear-eyed memory play loosely based on Friel's mother and aunts.
The family saga features eight roles, each rich with contradiction, and the moods blowing through that overcrowded kitchen are like the highs and depressions of heavy weather. The Keegan Theatre gets this; these Irish specialists have put together a plainly inexpensive but compelling production at the Church Street Theater.

This isn't the kind of bravura performance that "Lughnasa" can be (it was an international hit in the 1990s, and then a film with Meryl Streep). But it's smart, and it works.

Lughnasa (pronounced almost like "lunacy") is a pagan festival happening during the summer in which this drama unfolds. Some of the sisters want to go, but Kate -- the stern teacher, chief breadwinner and most dedicated Catholic among them -- suggests it wouldn't be appropriate. Nonetheless, when their balky radio lands on an inspiring tune, a ferocious dance unexpectedly sweeps up the sisters, who laugh and stomp like wild things in a mighty rumpus. 

That's one of the hallmark scenes of modern theater, and although the staging by Mark A. Rhea and Abigail Isaac (with choreography by Kurt Boehm) doesn't nail it, a weird power still comes through. The tug of war between Christianity and paganism is on, with Friel skillfully raising questions of faith and conduct against a backdrop of harsh physical and spiritual deprivation. 

The play is uncommonly well balanced. Conservative Kate has an especially pivotal role, and Kerri Rambow is blessedly nuanced in it. Rambow is a fine scold, but love and watchfulness come through, too. The characterization makes it clear that there will be no easy solutions. 

The varied sisters include jolly Maggie (Susan Marie Rhea), who largely runs the house and instinctively defuses fights, and quiet Chris (Brianna Letourneau), the single mother of the unseen 7-year-old boy whose grown self (Colin Smith) recalls all this as he narrates the tale.

Agnes (Elizabeth Jernigan) knits gloves for practically no money and keeps a special eye on Rose (Emily Levey), the sister who is mentally unable to look after herself. The internal hierarchies, affinities and rivalries are well sorted among this alert ensemble.

Matthew Keenan is a trifle slow to become the charmer that Gerry -- the young boy's seldom-seen father -- should be, and as Jack, the sisters' elder brother, Kevin Adams doesn't seem fully steeped in the mists of a distant culture, despite the fact that Jack has been a missionary in Africa for 25 years.

That seems to have worked in reverse, for Jack (aging and ill) has returned in thrall to customs and rituals that simply aren't appropriate -- not in Friel's frequent setting of Ballybeg, Donegal, in 1936.

Yet there's an ache at large, and that's the play's deep and engaging subject, respectfully rendered in this modest performance. You see it in the sisters' faces, even during the inelegant, frenzied dancing: Something's got to give.
Dancing at Lughnasa
Pressley is a freelance writer.
Dancing at Lughnasa
by Brian Friel. Directed by Mark A. Rhea and Abigail Isaac. Set, George Lucas; costumes, Kelly Peacock; lights, Megan Thrift; sound design, Matthew Keenan. About 2 hours 20 minutes. Through April 18 at the Church Street Theater, 1742 Church St. NW. Call 703-892-0202 or visit http://www.keegantheatre.com.

Easter(n) Eggs

Easter(n) Eggs 

Mar 30, 2010 12:00 AM | By Tammy Baikie 

In Ukraine, decorating eggs isn't just about amusing children but harks back to age-old traditions and superstitions

Much like Christmas and its tree, the egg came before Easter - at least in Ukraine.

Sitting at a trestle table outside a museum-piece wooden Ukrainian cottage, I'm tracing designs with beeswax on an eggshell. Actually, I'm writing a sort of incantation, weaving the magic more strongly as the patterns on the delicate surface become more intricate.

Exactly as I am at this moment, in this place, I could be a Ukrainian peasant over 1000 years ago, creating a precursor to the Easter egg.

It's a lovely game of pretend as the air cools at the end of the day and Olga Yakovlevna Sakhno, in her traditionally embroidered top, transfers the radiant heat into the solar symbol on her demonstration egg. All the while explaining - in Russian, just to make it even more authentic - the history and symbolism of the ancient practice of creating pysanky.

That's the Ukrainian word for the decorated eggs that were already used as powerful pagan talismans, before the conversion of the Ukrainian Slavs to Christianity in 988AD.

Because of their association with life bursting forth from the silent and apparently inert shell, eggs were seen as magic charms and symbols of nature's ability to rejuvenate itself each spring.

A gift of an egg decorated with chick designs was believed to help a barren woman conceive. To protect against evil spirits and keep a family in good health, a bowl of painted eggs was kept in the home. If a wooden house caught fire, threatening a family, carrying an egg around the area of the blaze was thought to prevent its spread, and throwing shells onto the flames would extinguish them.

As the people increasingly transferred their faith in elemental forces such as the "sun" to the "Son", the old symbols were assimilated into the new belief system.

What's perhaps surprising is just how well the pagan ideograms lent themselves to Christian motifs. The triangle that had previously invoked fire, air and water came to represent the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
In turn, the eight-pointed star or rose - which signified purity, life, the sun as the giver of light, the centre of knowledge as well as beauty, elegance and perfection - became the herald of Christ's birth and symbol of God's love for humanity.

Even today, pysanky designs reveal a mix of older pagan elements and Christian additions, such as churches and fish.

Exchanged at Easter by friends and family, they offer good wishes tailored to the recipient. A farmer might receive an egg adorned with shafts of wheat, in the hope that his harvest will be good.

Often before being handed over, they are taken to church in a basket along with homemade bread and boiled eggs to be blessed by the Orthodox priest on Easter Sunday.

It's this rich seam of layered meanings, which the stylised patterns on the eggs represents, that really captured my imagination. Almost every line is significant - even the crosshatching, known as the "sieve", denotes the separating of good and evil.

It's for this reason that the Ukrainians don't talk about painting eggs but rather "writing eggs". Each one is not just a pretty, decorative knick-knack but a very beautiful, individualised message.

For me, the process of creating a pysanky is one of incrementally constructing meaning. The wax-resist method most widely employed in the Ukrainian tradition is similar to batik. A stylus called a kistka is used to write with melted beeswax. It's a small, metal funnel bound to a stick with copper wire. Once heated over a candle flame, it's easy to scoop a little beeswax with the hot funnel.

Held over the eggshell, the melted wax runs through the narrow end of the funnel allowing one to draw. These waxy lines repel the dye when the egg is submerged in the yellow colouring and thus remain white.

Further details added with the kistka to the design will stay yellow when the egg is again stained orange or red. And so it continues, working from the lighter shades to the darkest - blue, purple and black. The pysanky is then held to the candle flame for a few seconds until the wax begins to melt. Gradually wiping off the wax with paper towel as it turns to liquid reveals the finished piece.

Naturally, colour choices are also not arbitrary. Yellow conveys light, happiness, harvest, love and benevolence. In the Christian context, it represents recognition and reward. Red is the magical hue of folklore that glorifies the sun and joy of life. Pysanky with red fields or motifs are typically intended for children or youths. The religious interpretation is divine love and the passion of Christ.

A master of the art form, Sakhno, with her infinitely steady hand, gave me my first pysanky lesson at the Museum of Folk Architecture and Life, just outside Kiev. Seven little villages representing each of Ukraine's regions form this open-air museum, set on 159ha of parkland surrounded by woods.

Original 16th to 20th-century wooden churches, cottages, barns, beekeeping boxes and windmills are dotted across the meadow. Some are furnished with period pieces; others serve as craftsmen's studios - like the shed where Sakhno stores dyes and finished eggs for sale.

Much like the devotional practices of pagans or Christians, this is an art that requires a commitment. Hesitancy isn't an option. The nature of the kistka demands that you make long, uninterrupted strokes instead of the short, sketchy, broken lines often employed in pencil drawings, and there can be no erasures.
My experience was of a beautiful, contemplative activity imbued with deep significance. Sakhno decided that the theme of my egg would be love. Not my first choice, but I wasn't going to complain. Along with the self-explanatory hearts at the apex and base, the design includes the tree of life in the form of a stylised frond with three sets of leaves. Those lowest on the branch are my parents. The middle ones stand for my husband and me, with the little leaflets on top as our (future) children. Encouraging the growth of the tree of life are little solar symbols, shining their light on my family. Even the curlicues between the hearts are emblematic - serving as protection for the plant.

An old myth of the Hutzul people of the southeastern Ukrainian Carpathians elevates the value of the generosity and goodwill spread by the patterned tokens to apocalyptic proportions. It tells of a primordial creature of pure evil that is chained to a cliff. Each year, it sends its minions around the world to tally the number of pysanky created.

In years when fewer eggs are decorated and exchanged, the monster's bonds loosen and more iniquity is released into the world. If the tradition were to die out completely, the planet would be engulfed in wickedness, but while it continues to flourish, the affection and goodwill inscribed on the fragile shells brings peace and harmony to people.

Original Article

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Universal Orlando opens Harry Potter park June 18

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Widescreen Edition)Universal Orlando opens Harry Potter park June 18
By MITCH STACY (AP)

The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will open to Muggles for the first time on June 18. The Three Broomsticks Inn, Honeydukes sweets and all the other quirky shops in Hogsmeade village will open then too.

That's when the non-wizarding public will be allowed to step into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the much-anticipated new attraction inside Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure park that brings to life the weird and wonderful realm of the famous boy wizard.

And all those Potterphiles who've been waiting for the day they could peer into the Gryffindor House common room, soar on Harry's broomstick or quaff a butter beer in the Hog's Head pub will not be disappointed.

The theme park attraction was created with the close collaboration of the set designers from the Potter movies, as well as with input from author J.K. Rowling, who first conjured the world in her imagination. The scope and attention to detail are stunning, from the bizarre bric-a-brac displayed in headmaster Albus Dumbledore's office inside the castle, to the boxes of magic wands stacked in the window at Ollivander's wand shop. (Located in Diagon Alley in the books, the shop was moved to Hogsmeade at Universal with Rowling's OK.)

"This is so authentic to what I experienced on the films that I find it hard to tell them apart," Alan Gilmore, who helped design sets for three of the Harry Potter movies before joining the attraction's creative team, said Wednesday on a media tour of the park. "I'm a stickler for detail, and I really haven't let go of these guys until it was perfect."

Not only that, but team members working on the Universal park made a series of trips to Scotland to consult with the hands-on Rowling, who signed off on everything from what would be displayed in the Hogsmeade shop windows to the recipes for the butter beer and pumpkin juice served in the restaurant at the Three Broomsticks and the Hog's Head. (Both libations, by the way, are absolutely delicious.)

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is within Universal's Islands of Adventure, so there's no extra charge to step from The Lost Continent section of the park right onto the cobblestones of Hogsmeade village, with its steep snow-covered roofs, grimy crooked chimneys and menacing doorways. The Hogwarts Express locomotive belches steam at the train station nearby. Fans of the later Potter movies will recognize this place right away.

The ancient, foreboding castle that is Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry looms over the village, drawing visitors inside to the centerpiece of the attraction, a ride combining 360-degree filming techniques and sophisticated robotics to create the illusion of a magic adventure in flight with Harry and his wizarding pals Ron and Hermione.

Believe it or not, standing in line for the ride — called Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey — is half the fun. The queue snakes through the castle's dungeon up to the greenhouse (complete with potted mandrakes) and through a corridor to the soaring portrait gallery where the quirky characters from Hogwarts' past talk to each other and move from painting to painting.

From there, visitors move into Dumbledore's office, where the headmaster welcomes Muggles — non-wizarding folks — to the castle for the first time. Dumbledore is on screen, but the illusion magically puts him right him right there in the room. Next it's the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, where Harry, Ron and Hermione — the movie actors appearing on-screen — intercept the group and invite everyone along for an adventure with them. The Gryffindor House common room is one of the last stops before the ride, which includes an encounter with the Whomping Willow, a narrow escape from a dragon attack and a Quidditch match.

The queue and ride are supposed to be an hour-long experience, but long lines may extend the wait time.
 
In addition to the Forbidden Journey ride, two outdoor roller coasters on the 20-acre Harry Potter attraction are there for adrenaline junkies who need a fix. And, of course, the shops in Hogsmeade will provide ample retail opportunities for witches and wizards of all ages.
Related
Universal announced the June 18 grand opening date, but the attraction will be open beginning May 28 for park guests who buy a special Harry Potter travel package. (Some of those early dates may already be sold out.) Those packages are still available via Universal's web site, http://www.universalorlando.com/harrypotter.

Original Article

Judge: Wiccan inmates have no right to sweat lodges, raw meat

Judge: Wiccan inmates have no right to sweat lodges, raw meat

Thursday, March 25, 2010 | 12:09 p.m.

— A federal judge has ruled that prison inmates have no right to sweat lodges and raw meat to practice the Wiccan religion.

U.S. District Judge Philip Pro rejected the civil rights suit of Scott Fletcher, who claimed the federal law on religious rights of prisoners required the prison to provide such things.

The judge said the prison regulations "do not pose a substantial burden on Fletcher's exercise of his religion or pressure him to abandon his religious beliefs."

Senior Deputy Attorney General Clark Leslie called the ruling a major victory for the state. This decision, he said, establishes the standard for prison regulations and shows they were justified and there was a compelling state interest in adopting them.

Fletcher, when he filed this suit was serving a term for first-degree murder at the High Desert State Prison in Clark County. He was granted parole in January this year.

Judge Pro says he was required to interpret the federal law "in favor of a broad protection of religious exercise, to the maximum extent permitted" by the law and the Constitution.

He said Fletcher had the initial burden of demonstrating the policy of the prison "constituted a substantial burden on his religious exercise."

The judge noted that Fletcher was still free to practice his Wiccan religion if those requests were denied. He said testimony at the trial showed the construction and operation of a sweat lodge "would pose a threat to the safety and security of both inmates and staff at High Desert State Prison."

There was "unrebutted testimony" that the handling and cooking of raw meat poses a potential health hazards which justify restrictions against its use, the judge said.

Leslie said the judge placed a major emphasis on the security and safety at the prison. But he said there are different rulings in other states and he expects a case over this federal law to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

Original Article

‘Peace, balance and harmony’: Former cop opens New Age shop in Centerville

‘Peace, balance and harmony’: Former cop opens New Age shop in Centerville

Author GregoryBranson-Trent Takes on the Metaphysical with a Weekly Blog in the Book of Shadows Blog

Author GregoryBranson-Trent Takes on the Metaphysical with a Weekly Blog in the Book of Shadows Blog

Author Gregory Branson-Trent’s latest project takes on the internet with the The Book Of Shadows Blog. Inspired by his books Magick: Wicca, Witchcraft And The Book Of Shadows, Runes: A Guide To Divination Uses And Magick Uses, and The Encyclopedia of Magick And The Occult, this blog will explore the worlds of witchcraft and Wicca, as well as, their history and traditions.

New York, NY, March 26, 2010 --(PR.com)-- Scheduled for this blog are areas such as spell construction, herbology, potion construction, oil recipes, incense recipes, candle magick, construction of a book of shadows, stones and crystals for healing and protection, tarot, runes and the chakra.

Branson-Trent has released more than 30 books over the last 15 years. Among those is a continuing series of ghost books. Titles included are: Vampires Among Us: The Children Of The Night, Creatures Of Myth And Legend, Ghosts, Hauntings And The Dark Side Of The Cemetery, Return To The Cemetery: More Ghosts And Hauntings, Haunted Hollywood: Ghost Of The Dead Famous, The Unexplained: Amelia Earhart, Bermuda Triangle, Atlantis, Aliens, And Ghosts, Magick: Wicca, Witchcraft And The Book Of Shadows, An Encyclopedia Of Paranormal Events, and coming in March 2010, Haunted Houses Around The World.

Visit the blog at http://thebookofshadowsblog.blogspot.com/. For further information, visit Gregory Branson-Trent’s web site www.gregorybranson-trent.com.

Gregory Branson-Trent currently resides in New York. He has been a published author for fifteen years. His first book, Olivia Newton-John…More Than Physical, was released in 1995. Look for his latest books, The Encyclopedia of Magick And The Occult, Inside The World Of Tarot And Magck, Aliens Among Us: A History Of Extraterrestrials, Crop Circle, Adbuctions And UFO’s, Runes: A Guide To Divination Uses And Magick Uses, and more.

Original Article

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Suspect calls herself a witch

APD arrests Wiccan follower for murder

Suspect calls herself a witch

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Albuquerque police arrested a self-described Wiccan follower for the murder of a man in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains Monday evening.

Angela Sanford, 30, is charged with an open count of murder in the stabbing death of Joel Leyva.

Police said the two had previously met at an Albuquerque-area casino about a week ago and exchanged phone numbers.

Around 4:00 p.m. Monday, police said Sanford called Leyva and invited him to the Sandia Foothills Open Space east of Tramway Boulevard to celebrate a Wiccan ritual for spring.

Sanford claims to be a witch in the religion of Wicca, according to police.

"This is a very unusual case for the Albuquerque Police Department to have to investigated," APD Chief Ray Schultz said. "We'll continue to investigate this to find out more about Angela's history."

Wicca is considered a modern pagan religion with many followers practicing forms of witchcraft.

Albuquerque police gave this account of what happened as detailed in a criminal complaint:

When Leyva arrived, the two walked from the Copper Avenue trailhead into the open space where they drank some beer and a miniature of Tequila. It was then that Sanford said she had to use the restroom and Leyva asked if he could watch.

While she was using the restroom, Leyva removed a rope belt from her waist and tied her up. He also removed a dagger she had in her back pocket.

Sanford said the dagger is used in Wiccan rituals and also told investigators she convinced Leyva to untie her as she wanted both of them to get undressed.

When they did, she got on top of Leyva and stabbed him with her dagger. In her version to police, she said she only stabbed him about three times, but investigators reported finding as many as 13 stab wounds to Leyva’s head and torso.

Sanford said she later told witnesses that she was raped and needed them to call police. Witnesses later stated that when they found Sanford she was only wearing her underwear.

The investigation by police later proved that the story of rape was false. Sanford is being held on a $500,000 cash or surety bond.

A second man police said had been detained for questioning Monday now is being described by police as a witness.

On Sanford’s MySpace age, her screen name is “Glitch.”

She lists her religions as “Wiccan” and calls herself a “Proud Parent.”

Many of her blog entries include poems, Bible quotes and passages about spirituality.

“Doing some research into this case, this is a time of Wiccan holiday being the solstice, and we're still in the process of determining whether or not that had anything to do with this particular homicide case occurring,” Schultz said.

Sanford’s neighbors told News 13 she kept to herself, but was always nice.

Her criminal history in New Mexico includes a dismissed DWI and minor traffic violations.

Original Article

Diversity lesson needs learning

Diversity lesson needs learning

By Andrea Mcneill, Comox Valley Echo

The wonderful One World Dance Troupe hosted by Iona Campagnolo on Saturday at the Sid Williams was a celebration of breaking the barriers of racism, sexism and religious differences so that everyone is accepted and valued in our multicultural society called Canada.

The Jewish couple that boldly came into the Wiccan ceremony to celebrate the Spring Equinox at the Courtenay Rec Centre on Sunday and suddenly started yelling and sobbing in Hebrew and slamming those who had advertised and rented the space to celebrate a peaceful event they value in their lives shows truly that our community has work to do within itself as well as dealing with infiltrators from other places.

There are no right ways or wrong ways of celebrating and living our lives with our varying mores, cultures and religions. Different strokes for different folks. We all have different pasts and conditions we continue to accept or find a replacement for if our upbringing did not satisfy our longing.

Being human each person has part of the answer but no one all of it. We are not the almightly himself. If we are drawn to a particular way of celebration with life through culture, race or religion that is truly our right in a democratic society.

Growing into acceptance of other ways is a slow process that we must cultivate and pay attention to over time.

To the young Middle Eastern couple, wherever you hail from, set up your own program. there may be interest.

As you showing up was an aggressive, disturbing theatrical scenario, with no respect for religious differences or the people of the Comox Valley, was worthy of a 911 call.

Andrea McNeill

Comox


Original Article

Monday, March 22, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC:Mother Grove Goddess Temple celebrate spring equinox in Episcopal Cathedral


ASHEVILLE, NC:Mother Grove Goddess Temple celebrate spring equinox in Episcopal Cathedral
By Carole Terrell
http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20100319/LIVING/303190029
March 19, 2010

After making it through the harsh winter, people in Western North Carolina are looking forward to the warm sun of spring. Some are preparing to celebrate the season's change with an ecumenical ritual.

Saturday officially marks the first day of spring, being the day of the spring equinox.

Members of Mother Grove Goddess Temple will celebrate at 7 p.m. Saturday with A Breath of Appalachian Spring: A Ritual in Celebration of the Spring Equinox, in the parish hall of the Episcopal Cathedral of All Souls in Biltmore Village.

Saturday's event is open to all faith traditions, said Byron Ballard, wiccan priestess and a member of the temple. Mother Grove "isn't a wiccan group, though some of us are wiccans," she said.

"Mother Grove is an outgrowth of the work of several people in the goddess/earth religions community," Ballard said. "Its goal is to create a permanent sanctuary, where people of all faith traditions may openly and safely celebrate the divine feminine, the goddess."

Wicca is a modern religion built on the ancient agricultural religions of Europe, she explained. "Wiccans may also refer to themselves as witches."

Jill Boyer is a co-founder and priestess with Mother Grove. She says she looks forward to celebrating "with my celebrants and community, having time to celebrate something that is very important to me and the ritual aspects themselves."

Boyer believes people have an ancient and human need for ritual and celebration in groups, and to acknowledge the changing of the seasons.

The celebration will consist of raising a circle, singing, "whistling up the wind" and flying prayers written on paper airplanes. Ballard will lead the ritual, explaining that it is a joyful expression of the beginning of spring and coming together as a community.

Nonperishable food items will be collected at the event for the Mother Grove Cornucopia Project food drive.

"Last year, as part of the celebration, we asked people to write a prayer or wish on a piece of paper and fold it into an airplane," Ballard said. "We spent about five minutes flying planes around the room. Then we asked people to pick up a plane that was not theirs, take it home with them and pray for that person."

Ballard said that "whistling up the wind" is an old English and Appalachian tradition. March is usually the windiest month, so the element of wind will be emphasized at the celebration. One person will whistle while three others honor the elements of earth, fire and water.

"It's a lovely holiday for children," Ballard said. "The first chance to get out and see what's growing, to welcome baby chicks and lambs, to taste the first little green bits of chickweed. All pagan and wiccan holidays are family-friendly. Many Earth religionists choose to honor their spiritual traditions as a family group."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What happens at the Vernal Equinox?

What happens at the Vernal Equinox?

Twice a year the tilt of the earth's axis matches perfectly with the sun. This means that on the equinox the sun is directly over the equator, but this is more than a symbolic. Because of the position of the sun in the sky the sky the equinoxes are the days of the year when day and night are most equal. This is not to say that day and night will be perfectly even but they are as close as they are likely to get. The Vernal Equinox is also the official change of season from spring to summer.

In our modern world the need to understand when summer or fall is beginning is little more than a matter of comfort for many of us, but for those in the ancient world this information was much more important. The understanding of the seasons allowed them to plant crops, store food, hunt and even migrate.

Among the enchant artifacts that demonstrate this ancient understanding of the equinox is the 4500 year old Egyptian Sphinx which faces due east on the vernal equinox and across the world the 3000 year old Stonehenge which marks the position of the rising sun on the vernal equinox and even in central America the Mayan Caracol Tower and the temples of the sun and moon have alignments that match with the sun's position on the Vernal Equinox.

In the modern world there are still many celebrations on this day. Among them is the somewhat silly, and untrue belief that this is the only day in which you can balance an egg. In fact you can balance an egg just as easily on any day of the year. More serious celebrations also occur on this day. The Japanese celebrate Shunbun no hi by setting the day aside for honoring nature and family while in Wicca it is one of the eight major sabbats and of course the first day of spring.

In addition to religious holidays and celebrations this is also a significant day for astronomy and many schools and observatories have lectures and stargazing events on this day. This is an excellent excuse to look at the beauty of the stars even if you don't particularly care about the length of the day.

In conclusion, the celebration of the equinox's in human society are some of the longest standing and most practical holidays and while they matter less to us in many ways than they did thousands of years ago it is still good to stop and think of the history of the day and the many ancestors you had who lived and died by the knowledge of this day but of the understanding of the equinoxes as well as the grand dance of the celestial bodies.

Learn more about this author, Elton Gahr.

Original Article

Author Gregory Branson-Trent Latest Release Explores Wicca and Witchcraft. Magick: Wicca, Witchcraft And The Book Of Shadows.

Author Gregory Branson-Trent Latest Release Explores Wicca and Witchcraft. Magick: Wicca, Witchcraft And The Book Of Shadows.

Author Gregory Branson-Trent’s latest release takes on the world of Wicca, Witchcraft and the Metaphysical. Magick: Wicca, Witchcraft And The Book Of Shadows, hits on all areas within this belief system and has a hundreds of spells, potions, oil recipes, incense recipes, candle magick, construction of a book of shadows and volumes of information.

New York, NY, March 19, 2010 --(PR.com)-- In this trip to the metaphysical 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. The book also focuses on incense, oils, and aroma therapy.

The book takes a look at the foundations of the Metaphysical, including a look back at the history of Witches. There are even extensive sections on Herbology, Stones and Crystals for Healing and Protection, Tarot and Runes. With a wide range of information contained within 472 pages 8.25x11 format, this book covers all areas of Wicca.

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 fifteen years. His releases include: Magick: Wicca, Witchcraft, and the Book of Shadows, 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.

Original Article

Friday, March 19, 2010

Asheville Mother Grove Goddess Temple to celebrate spring equinox

Asheville Mother Grove Goddess Temple to celebrate spring equinox
By Carole Terrell • March 19, 2010

ASHEVILLE — After making it through the harsh winter, people in Western North Carolina are looking forward to the warm sun of spring. Some are preparing to celebrate the season's change with an ecumenical ritual.

Saturday officially marks the first day of spring, being the day of the spring equinox.

Members of Mother Grove Goddess Temple will celebrate at 7 p.m. Saturday with A Breath of Appalachian Spring: A Ritual in Celebration of the Spring Equinox, in the parish hall of the Episcopal Cathedral of All Souls in Biltmore Village.

Saturday's event is open to all faith traditions, said Byron Ballard, wiccan priestess and a member of the temple. Mother Grove “isn't a wiccan group, though some of us are wiccans,” she said.

“Mother Grove is an outgrowth of the work of several people in the goddess/earth religions community,” Ballard said. “Its goal is to create a permanent sanctuary, where people of all faith traditions may openly and safely celebrate the divine feminine, the goddess.”

Wicca is a modern religion built on the ancient agricultural religions of Europe, she explained. “Wiccans may also refer to themselves as witches.”

Jill Boyer is a co-founder and priestess with Mother Grove. She says she looks forward to celebrating “with my celebrants and community, having time to celebrate something that is very important to me and the ritual aspects themselves.”

Boyer believes people have an ancient and human need for ritual and celebration in groups, and to acknowledge the changing of the seasons.

The celebration will consist of raising a circle, singing, “whistling up the wind” and flying prayers written on paper airplanes. Ballard will lead the ritual, explaining that it is a joyful expression of the beginning of spring and coming together as a community.

Nonperishable food items will be collected at the event for the Mother Grove Cornucopia Project food drive.

“Last year, as part of the celebration, we asked people to write a prayer or wish on a piece of paper and fold it into an airplane,” Ballard said. “We spent about five minutes flying planes around the room. Then we asked people to pick up a plane that was not theirs, take it home with them and pray for that person.”

Ballard said that “whistling up the wind” is an old English and Appalachian tradition. March is usually the windiest month, so the element of wind will be emphasized at the celebration. One person will whistle while three others honor the elements of earth, fire and water.

“It's a lovely holiday for children,” Ballard said. “The first chance to get out and see what's growing, to welcome baby chicks and lambs, to taste the first little green bits of chickweed. All pagan and wiccan holidays are family-friendly. Many Earth religionists choose to honor their spiritual traditions as a family group.”

Original Article

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

NJ Board of Education votes this morning on adding Wiccan/Pagan holidays to state's school calendars

NJ Board of Education votes this morning on adding Wiccan/Pagan holidays to state's school calendars

Domestic Witchery ExaminerKris Bradley

This morning, the New Jersey Board of Education will vote to approve their list of religious holidays permitting pupil absence from school for the 2010-2011 school year. Included for the first time on this list are the eight Pagan/Wiccan holidays, or sabbats. If approved, this will mark the first time any state has approved Pagan holidays to a state calendar, and will set a precedence for other districts and states across the country.

This story starts with a mother sending in a note to get her daughter excused from school for Yule, 2009. Rev. Elena Ottinger's daughter attends Pennsville High School in the Salem County School District, located in Pennsville, NJ. Brianna Ottinger had recently finished her "Year and a Day", a traditional time of study for many Wiccan initiates. Rev. Ottinger, who has a doctorate in metaphysics, wrote a note to her daughter's school, letting them know that she would be taking Yule off from school to celebrate. When Brianna came home that day, it was with the list of approved religious holidays for NJ schools and a note from the vice principal that stated while they would give Brianna an excused absence, it would not be an excused absence based on a religious holiday.

Looking at that list, which includes a variety of approved days (including the birthday of author and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard), Rev. Ottinger decided that it was not enough just to get an excused absence for her daughter, she wanted her daughter and others like her to have the same religious freedoms at school that others did.

When she phoned the Pennsville High School's vice principal to discuss the matter, Rev. Ottinger was told to call the State Board of Education, who explained to her that even though the state puts out a calendar, it's up to each township whether to allow and excuse religious holidays for students. At that point Rev. Ottinger states that she tried to get an appointment with the district's superintendent to discuss the matter, only to be told that she would be dealing with his secretary, who asked for three days to look into the matter. After four days, Rev. Ottinger says she called back only to be told by the secretary that they were "looking into it" and would get back to her.

Seeming to not be getting any help from her daughter's school district, Ottinger went online to ask for ideas and support in Pagan forums that she frequented. Many responded back to her that it was "not my problem" as they didn't have kids. New Jersey Pagan Amie Tolomeo suggested that Rev. Ottinger call the ACLU and eventually called them on behalf of Ottinger. The ACLU then put Ottinger in touch with a lawyer who was instrumental in helping to get Wiccan prisoners their religious rights in New Jersey, who Rev. Ottinger retained.

Rev. Ottinger's lawyer contacted her daughter's school and gave them 24 hours to give a religious excuse for Yule or the Ottingers would take the district to court on the matter. Though Rev. Ottinger reports that the ultimatum was at first rejected by the district, eventually the school board's lawyer did call to report that Brianna would et the Yule sabbat off as a religious holiday.

Not wanting to stop at just her district, Rev. Ottinger called the state and requested that the Wiccan holidays be added to the state calendar. The NJ BOE requested that Rev. Ottinger send in any information that she could on Wicca as a religion, such as when it was established and when the holidays fell during the year. Rev. Ottinger at that point contacted other Pagans in the community and requested that they, too, send in information about Wicca to the board, to show that there was more than just one individual interested in adding the holidays to the calendar.

One of those asked to write in was the Rev. Matthew Bartkey, Pastor and President of the Board for Sacred Wind Sanctuary, and am a Local Coordinator ad Secretary of the Board for Central New Jersey Pagan Pride Project, Inc. Rev. Bartkey helped organize a letter writing campaign to the BOE, and posted about the topic in Facebook, Myspace, Witchvox, and several Yahoo groups, that Rev. Bartkey considers "the main sources of information for the NJ Pagan Community".

And it wasn't just New Jersey Pagans who wrote in. Brianna Ottinger's grandmother, herself a Christian, wrote to the state BOE to ask that they give Pagans the "religious freedoms that are afforded to everyone." Many of Brianna's school friends also wrote letters of support as well. Rev. Ottinger, along with her lawyer and the personal friends who had supported her every step of the way, sent in multiple packets of information on Wicca.

Rev. Ottinger not only hopes to get the Wiccan sabbats on the calendar for New Jersey, but also wants the policy of giving individual school districts the discretion whether to allow the holidays to be excused changed. The holidays, Rev. Ottinger believes, should be automatically excused as a religious holiday for students who supply the necessary parent approval.

As this article goes up, the New Jersey Board of Education is in session. When a decision has been finalized, this column will be updated. Click subscribe at the top of the page for an email alert to new articles by this author.

Original Article

Monday, March 15, 2010

Contested gravesite at Ashkelon hospital may have belonged to pagans

Contested gravesite at Ashkelon hospital may have belonged to pagans
By Haaretz Service

The ancient gravesite at the center of ongoing tensions between the Haredi community and the Health Ministry may have belonged to pagans, as opposed to Jews, according to new findings by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The burial site was discovered when Health Minister Yaakov Litzman attempted to add a new wing to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. Once the gravesite was found at the original construction site, the Antiquities Authority confirmed the graves belonged to Jews, and put the project on indefinite hold.

New information gathered by the Antiquities Authority now reveals that the graves belonged to pagan worshippers. The Authority has asked to be given an additional week to conclude the excavations at the contested site.
Finance Ministry officials said a relocation of the new wing would cost at least NIS 160 million, and would be funded either with money designated for reinforcing other hospital departments or by siphoning money from various other government offices.

The construction of a reinforced wing at the hospital has been delayed for over two years, after the Antiquities Authority discovered an ancient cemetery at the building site.

Over the past few months, Barzilai has asked for the construction to be re-launched, having received permission from the Chief Rabbinate to relocate the graves. Litzman, however, rejected the initiative, instructing instead that the hospital wing itself be relocated to a site currently occupied by a parking lot, far from the main medical center. Litzman's proposal is significantly more expensive than that supported by the hospital.

In February, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his staff decided to adopt the position of his predecessor Ehud Olmert and have the project relocated, as Litzman wished.

In response, the Finance Ministry froze funding for the reinforcement of all hospitals - some NIS 450 million, partly from government coffers and partly from private donations. The move was intended to give Litzman and the Finance Ministry an opportunity to agree on the source of funding for the relocation of Barzilai's new wing.

Original Article

Pagan Chaplain Appointed at Syracuse University

Pagan Chaplain Appointed at Syracuse University
ABC News on Campus reporter Matt Markham blogs:

Syracuse University has tapped Mary Hudson (at left) to be the school’s first pagan chaplain.

That makes Hudson, 50, the second pagan chaplain appointed at a U.S. college. The only other known school to have a pagan chaplain is the University of Southern Maine. Internationally there are a few in Canada, Australia, and the UK.

But, what is a pagan? "It's not an easy word to define," said Rachel Ousley, a senior at Syracuse University and practicing pagan. "'Pagan' is basically an umbrella term meaning anyone who follows a polytheist religion, so you can have a whole load of religions or paths or faiths under that. Generally, pagans are polytheists that have more than one deity, or animal spirits, and they're also nature-based."

The pagan religion includes many different branches, such as Wicca and druidism.

There are 11 pagans registered with Syracuse University as of 2009.

“Now that we have the chaplaincy, we should get a little more support, and have our voices heard,” said Jessica Mays, president of SPIRAL, the Student Pagan Information Relations and Learning group
at Syracuse.

Hudson said education is her primary goal. “This involves both education of non-pagans as well as helping student pagans find their spiritual path,” she added. “That can mean something different to each student.”

As chaplain, Hudson said she hopes to bring guest speakers to campus and catalogue resource information for students interested in understanding different aspects of paganism. But also, Hudson wants to “dispel the misinformation and fear that many people have about who and what pagans are.”

She says some claim paganism isn't a "real" religion, but rather a sect that engages in magic, idolatry, and witchcraft.

Hudson worked in information technology at SU for about 10 years, and has been with SPIRAL for the last eight of them. After leaving her job with IT, she said she realized she had the qualifications to become a chaplain. "It was just the next natural step," said Hudson. She discussed it with the interim dean of Hendricks Chapel, the Dean of Student Affairs, and board members at the Church of the Greenwood, of which Hudson is a member.

Mays said that education is Hudson’s strong suit. “She’s good at that, and mentoring -- that’s a big thing, especially working with a group of college students. That’s a leap of faith.”

Promoting diversity is another goal pagans and their chaplain hope to accomplish. “Hendricks Chapel is dedicated to continually recognizing the diverse world that we live in. In this case it happens to be diversity within religious belief. I also hope that it gives people (non-pagans) the ability to ask questions about a set of beliefs which they may have a very little information about,” Hudson said. She said her door is always open to anyone who wants to stop by and just talk. “Conversation is the only way to create understanding,” she said.

Mays praises the university for making the appointment, saying that “any step that’s away from the mainstream is a step in diversity, and Mary’s another resource for students, another person to be able to talk to on campus.”

Original Article

Teens to wed in Pagan wedding

Teens to wed in Pagan wedding
by Denise Pickering

A TEENAGER plans to marry a schoolgirl in a pagan ceremony next month with the bride’s mother officiating.

Using a simple length of rope Alex Stewart-Pole and Jenni Birch will become partners for “a year and a day” through the ancient ritual.

A handfasting lasts just a year and a day before it is renewed for the same or a longer period, and aside from the lashing of hands, sees the couple jump over a fire, chant, and recite vows.

Mr Stewart-Pole, 19, who studies design at the Metropolitan South Institute of TAFE’s Mt Gravatt campus, said: “We’re planning to one day go to Northampton in England which is like the pagan capital of the world to do our ‘10 years and a day’ handfasting.”

A life-long pagan, Holland Park High School student Jenni, 16, said of the handfasting: “You can renew it if you want to but we’ll just see how it goes.”

Performing the ceremony will be Jenni’s mother and pagan high priestess Sue Birch, of Lawnton, who said she happily approved of her teenage daughter’s betrothal.

Paganism takes in a range of spiritual beliefs including druidism, wicca, and modern witchcraft, and is based on the worship of nature and its cycle of birth, growth, death and renewal as represented in the four seasons.

According to 2006 Census data, 3355 Queenslanders identified themselves as pagans, but the Pagan Awareness Network believes the true figure is closer to 13,000.

Eileen Harlow, an Ipswich-based marriage celebrant and one of only three people in southEast Queensland licensed to conduct legally-binding handfasting ceremonies, said: “There’s much more awareness now, but unfortunately peoples’ picture of paganism can be very superficial and a little bit Hollywood,” she said.

“It can appear very dramatic but to the people involved paganism is a heart-felt, nature-based faith that centres around health and healing and an holistic approach to life.”

Visit http://www.paganawareness.net.au

Original Article

Friday, March 12, 2010

New Jersey Board of Education has Wiccan/ Pagan holidays on the agenda for meeting



New Jersey Board of Education has Wiccan/ Pagan holidays on the agenda for meeting

Domestic Witchery ExaminerKris Bradley

The buzz around the internet these days has been on whether or not the New Jersey State Board of Education will be adding the eight Wiccan/Pagan holidays to it's calendar at their March 17th meeting. The board's calendar includes a list of holidays that they have approved as possible excused absences for students around the state.

One quote that's been frequently discussed: “I just got a call from the NJ Board of Education. They are adding 8 Wiccan/Pagan holidays to the “official” BoE calendar! They just wanted to double check the dates with me, in response to my letter to them in December. They said it will be adopted as official policy next month at the March BoE meeting!! our holidays plus a couple Jewish ones they apparently missed.” This quote comes from Amie Tolomeo from Sicklerville, New Jersey. Tolomeo was contacted by a parent, Elena Ottinger of Pennsville, New Jersey, in 2009 for help when Ottinger's child was denied an excused absence from school for the Wiccan holiday, Yule.

Tolomeo referred Ottinger to the ACLU and together they wrote letters to the NJ BOE. As more people heard about the matter, more letters were written. Tolomeo approached the Board of Education as a NJ Pagan minister and representative of the Pagan Pride Project. Leaving her name and number, she stated that she was sure that it "wasn't their intention to omit" the dates and asked that they "please consider" add the dates to their calendar. She also let them know she could be contacted if the board needed more information and that she'd be willing to give a presentation if it were needed.

A phone call to the New Jersey Board of Education's Public Information Office confirms that the calendar is on the agenda for the March 17th meeting and that Wiccan holidays have been tentatively added to the calendar.. The calendar will be voted on for final approval at the meeting. To check on the results of the vote, view the meeting agenda and/or meeting minutes at the NJ BOE website.

If approved, students who identify themselves as Wiccan/Pagan would be eligible, with a parental note, to be excused from school on the dates of the eight holidays, or sabbats. It would also pave the way for similar policy to be set in other states, as New Jersey appears to be the only state even considering adding the dates to their board of education calendar.

The sabbats for 2010 include Imbolc (February 2), Ostara (March 20), Beltane (May 1), Litha (June 21), Lammas (August 1), Maybon (September 22), Samhain (October 31) and Yule (December 21).

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Wiccan altar puts teacher, officials at odds

Wiccan altar puts teacher, officials at odds
By LEE ROOD • lrood@dmreg.com • March 2, 2010

Guthrie Center, Ia. - A high school senior's desire to build a Wiccan altar in shop class has forced a community debate about free expression.

Dale Halferty, who has taught industrial arts at Guthrie Center High School for three years, was placed on paid leave Monday after he acknowledged to district officials that he told the student he could not build the altar in class.

"This is not a beef that I have with the district. It's not me against them," said Halferty, who has been an educator for much of the past 20 years. "But this kid was practicing his religion during class time, and I don't agree."

Halferty said he previously told another student he could not build a cross in shop class because he believes in the separation of church and state. "I don't want any religious symbols in the shop," he said.

His viewpoint: "We as Christians don't get to have our say during school time, so why should he?"

School officials say Christians actually do get to express themselves in the same way.

More than one school policy, as well as state and federal law, prohibit discrimination against students who express religious beliefs through school assignments.

Superintendent Steve Smith and Principal Garold Thomas said they placed Halferty on leave while they conferred with the school's attorney to decide what to do.

Both Smith and Thomas said the incident has become emotional for the high school's 185 students: Almost 70 signed a petition late last week saying they didn't want witchcraft practiced at the school.

"I think it's fear based on some of the old ideas people had about witchcraft," Smith said. "It's fear and a lack of knowledge about the unknown."

Neither Smith nor school officials identified the student at the center of the controversy, and the boy's father declined a request made through Thomas to be interviewed.

Smith acknowledged that some people have expressed fears about satanism or sacrifices.

He said they too could use some educating: Though Wicca is often subject to such myths, it is nonviolent and based on a shared reverence for the Earth and all living things.

Halferty was sent home for the first time Friday and told to think about what he was doing.

He said he had no beef with the student or his project - until the student told him he was a practicing witch.

"I said, 'Ah, you're kidding, right?'"

When the student said he wasn't, Halferty told him he could work on his project - a table that would become the altar - provided he kept religious materials at home.

However, he said, the student kept returning to class with a book of witchcraft.

Halferty said he thought about it, and decided allowing the student to make the altar "was wrong on every level."

"It scares me. I'm a Christian," he said. "This witchcraft stuff - it's terrible for our kids. It takes kids away from what they know, and leads them to a dark and violent life. We spend millions of tax dollars trying to save kids from that."

But Smith said school policies prohibit teachers from denying students access to varying points of view without just cause, and prohibit employees from denying students participation in activities on the grounds of race or religion.

The U.S. Department of Education has written guidelines for public school districts to ensure students' First Amendment rights are protected.

Ben Stone, executive director of the Iowa Civil Liberties Union, said the clash appears to be a simple case of religious discrimination. All students, he said, have the right to religious freedom and to be treated equally in school.

Stone said: "The teacher may have good intentions. It's a learning process. But he needs to respect that students can exercise their religious viewpoints within the context of an assignment."

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