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.