Thursday, May 26, 2011

Salem witches start Witches Education League

By Sean Teehan, Town Correspondent
Members of Salem's witch community have long lamented being a misunderstood demographic. Rather than bemoan perceptions of creepy ceremonies and wicked intentions, some local witches are doing the same as many groups an image problem: some PR.
In a press release, the Witches Education League announced its formation and intentions to ingrain itself into Salem's community.
"We're not eating babies or drinking blood," said Teri Kalgren, W.E.L.'s vice president. "[We promote] a better understanding of what witch craft is."
The new league comes as two active organizations, the Witches Education Bureau and Pagan Witches Protection, merge, Kalgren said.
"There are many untruths about Witches and the craft, born out of hate, fear, or other issues causing these untruths to flourish and grow through the centuries," the W.E.L. release said. "W.E.L. encourages all to ask their questions and to learn about one of Earth’s oldest religions."
The organization, which recently received nonprofit status, intends to continue with community services such as the annual W.E.B.-founded "ask a witch, make a wand,"  where children are invited to make magic wands with area witches near Halloween, Kalgren said.
They also intend to reach out to witches beyond Salem, Kalgren said.
"There are still places out there where people do lose their job and have their kids taken away" for being a witch or pagan, Kalgren said.
While the W.E.L. is in its beginning stages (they have yet to launch their website), Kalgren said their board of directors includes druids, pagans, wiccans, and other witches. Their Facebookpage has generated much membership interest, she said.
As they ramp up operations, Kalgren said the W.E.L. is planning a number of events coming up including a pagan family day tentatively set for August.
Increased awareness of witches and integration into the community will help people better understand their practices, Kalgren said.
"Even in the year 2011, there are still a lot of people who come to town and they don't have a clue," Kalgren said. "We want to give back to our commuity."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Gifts of Unity

by Star Foster


Occasionally, I wander into a spiritual funk, and it was more often when I was a solitary. Running across this video a few days ago I found an expression  for that funk. It was a lack of unity and community. I’ve been thinking about this video for some time now and rolling it’s themes around in my heart and mind.
Capetreasures.com via Flickr CC
This past Sunday I was worn-down, run-down and spiritually low. Yet I decided to go sit in on the meditation class for my coven’s current set of students, bringing my old notes and sitting quietly in the back. Despite allergies and my general feeling-ickiness, I felt a sea-change within me as I listened to my elders speak. My tradition is full of very diverse people. Every ethnicity, sexual orientation, professional, religious and educational background is present. I am certain each of us views the tradition’s teachings slightly different. Yet, hearing them speak, from all their different perspectives and backgrounds, there was a strong undercurrent of unity. In that unity I found healing.
Being Pagan does not make us immune to spiritual crisis. We all have points in our lives where we feel confused and lost and in the dark. When I walked into that class last Sunday I felt spiritually hollow. I felt alone. I felt like I had nothing left to give anyone and no capacity to receive anything. Walking in I hear one elder speaking of the tenets, using the common language of our tradition and, while speaking to other students, addressing the issues in my very heart. Another elder emphasized we are a place filled with love, a community built on love and that we are each other’s safe haven. The class itself gave multiple examples and encouragement for personalization and creativity while still remaining within the bounds of our tradition’s structure.
What Illizeulette was expressing, and what I have felt in the past, is the lack of connection, the lack of unity in Paganism. Not some broad ambitious pan-Pagan unity, although that sort of unity does exist in certain environments, such as festivals. A basic unity within your faith community. It is astounding how often this is lacking. So many Pagans can’t even agree on the same definitions for basic words, or the same basic virtues, for community’s sake. Unity is often conflated with dogma, and resisted. Diversity is raised as a wall or a weapon, rather than being a simple acknowledgement and celebration of those things which make our unity stronger.
As a Wiccan, polarity is something I think about a lot, and I’ve noticed that diversity and unity are considered by some to be polar opposites. This isn’t true. Diversity is the opposite of homogeneity. Unity is the opposite of separateness and aloneness. Unity implies diversity. If you combine two piles of dirt it seems strange to say they are united when they are exactly alike. Yet, if you take a pile of dirt and pile of sand and combine them, the unity is plain to see in the change of texture and color. Cob is a good example of how diversity and unity can create strength to last generations.
When you have a spiritual crisis, being told “whatever works for you” in the broadest sense isn’t helpful but infuriating. Having to explain your experiences and beliefs from scratch can be exhausting and maddening. Going to someone for advice and counsel or a friendly ear, to whom you have to explain your spiritual life to and then receive a “whatever works for you”, can be a soul-wounding experience as much as strict dogmatism can be. Just as strict dogmatism, particularly when it makes no good sense, is harmful to the soul which needs healing, so is diffidence and disconnect.
Just as there is comfort, rhyme, reason and sacred purpose in the sun rising and setting, in the seasons turning, so should there be that same sort of harmony in our spiritual communities. It is comforting that we share the same values, a common language and a desire for unity. Our diversity and unity are strengthened by each other. None of us are required to deny our own soul and none of us are alone. Balance and connectivity are our goals.
Perhaps the most unexpected thing that comes of this unity is how strong it makes our magic. Yes, I know at this point Recons are groaning, but as a Wiccan I am fascinated on how this emphasis on community affects magic. Our individual Wills are not made less by being part of a cohesive, unified value and praxis based-tradition, but made stronger.
When I am working with people from various faiths, Evangelicals, Buddhists, Druids, Catholics, Scientologists, Hindus and Atheists, and deal with the day in and day out grind of trying to struggle to find common ground, my own Will and soul can feel very alone and isolated in the world.
Yet touching the living body of my tradition, which grows like a secret garden full of diverse and harmonious plants, places me in an embrace between the Witches who came before me, and those who come after, and I am not alone. I am refreshed, renewed and revived. I am gently shifted back into balance with a word or phrase full of meaning for generations before me, and Gods willing, for generations after me. My Will, which may feel parched from tasks that give it no nourishment, grows green and blossoms. Standing in Circle with Witches whose Wills are strong as oak trees and as harmonious as a sacred grove, is a magical thing.
I’ve been in the same place as Illiezeulette found herself when she made that video, and I feel for the dilemma she found herself in. I think there are a lot of Pagans in that place, that feeling of aloneness or seperateness, that all the talk of diversity, freedom and anti-dogmatism cannot still. It’s my hope that all those who feel like that find a living tradition, full of support, acceptance, love and values, to see them through the tough times. May the Gods bless you, and may you find deep magic to sustain you in the lonely places you may walk!

Cleopatra: Egypt's last ancient pharaoh


By EMILY MAXWELL
CINCINNATI - After nearly 2,000 years, the life of the famous Queen of Egypt is finally beginning to surface. And Cleopatra is different than the elusive seductress we've come to know through ancient folklore.
Thanks to the archaeological findings of Dr. Zahi Hawass and Frank Goddio, both on land and underwater, two ancient cities have been recovered, and buried amidst the statues, jewelry and coins found are clues to the mysterious life of one of the most powerful women in history.
Over 150 artifacts---that when combined together weigh over 30 tons-- are showcased in "Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt" through Sept. 5 at the Cincinnati Museum Center. Cincinnati is one of only five stops that will feature the exhibit in the United States.
The Egyptian Queen
It may be surprising to most, but there was more than one Cleopatra that came into power in Egypt. Cleopatra VII was more famous than her predecessors due to her extravagant and mysterious lifestyle that made her the legend we know today.
Of Greek descent, Cleopatra was handed the throne at the young age of 17. Ancient texts indicate that she was fluent in seven languages, including Egpytian, which established her as the first pharaoh of the Macedonian line to do so.
When she came into power following the death of her father, Egypt was severely suffering both economically and politically. Rome was preying on the country's every move, waiting to take advantage of its weak state.
However, Cleopatra's famous affair with Julius Caesar resulted in a partnership between Rome and Egypt. She secured her country's power and safety. After spending some time in Rome with Caesar with whom she bore a son, she was forced to flee after his assasination.
Mark Antony was the next great military leader of Rome, who led an army to Egypt to collect taxes. As legend has it, Cleopatra seduced Antony over a feast which spurred a new romantic and political relationship. Together they formed an alliance to avert Caesar's heir from taking power in Rome. Cleopatra and Antony had twins, a boy and girl, and then later another son.
However, the union between Antony and Cleopatra was not strong enough to halt Octavian's quest for power.  After Egypt fell to Roman rule, Cleopatra famously committed suicide in 30 B.C. Antony, likewise, took his own life.
Archaeological Discoveries
In an attempt to wipe her powerful legacy from history, the Romans sought to destroy any evidence of Cleopatra's existence and 20 years as ruler. Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass and French underwater archaeologist Frank Goddio have spent years trying to restore Cleopatra's reign.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Wake Up! Watch Six Planets Align!

Six planets align on the Sun's ecliptic path in May 2011


Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrring... set your alarm clock early over the next few weeks! If you wake up early enough, you’ll see a rare alignment of six planets above the rising Sun at dawn. And while it’s not a major astrological event, it is a majorly photogenic event.
Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter will be arrayed in a grand line visible to the naked eye, and if you grab binoculars or a telescope you can spot Uranus and Neptune in the lineup, too. Pesky Saturn is the only planet that gets away.
According to the website Space.com, almost all the planets have been hidden from view behind the Sun for the last two months. But now they’ll all emerge arrayed on the ecliptic path of the Sun.
The next few days are best for viewing and photographing the alignment because you’ll see the crescent Moon along with the other planets, but oncethe Moon moves on the four other planets will still be visible in the same alignment for most of May 2011.
Here’s a great sky map of the six planets from our friends at Space.com so you’ll know what to expect.
And what should you expect astrologically? Not much. While the planetary lineup makes for a stunning visual, the real Astrology news this month is not the lineup, but the cluster. 
Five planets have been clustered in Aries over the past month, urging us to go-go-go and sparking some major events on both a personal and global scale. In May, the Aries cluster will finally disperse as Mars, Venus and Mercury move on to Taurus mid-month, slowing the daily pace so we’ll have plenty of time to relax and gaze at the sky.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Santa Cruz Wicca Community Celebrates Days of Fire, Fertility

Witches gather at Seabright Beach to welcome Beltane

Pagans rejoice! Air Force Academy opens outdoor chapel for Wiccans, Druids and 'earth centred' worship groups

By DAILY MAIL REPORTER


The face of the military is changing.

What used to be seen as a bastion for evangelical Christianity is now expanding its lists of faiths to include Wiccans and Druids.
At the Air Force Academy in Colorado, a prayer circle and veritable Stonehenge on the Rockies will now serve as a place of worship for the academy's neo-Pagans.

The Colorado school has long faced criticism for only supporting evangelical Christianity. 

Lt Gen Michael Gould, the academy’s superintendent, said before a ribbon cutting ceremony on the site on Tuesday: 'This outdoor worship space is something we have created to help people of all religions.'

'Nowhere except for the United States of America would this be possible.'

According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, the academy is home to about ten cadets who regularly attend 'earth-centred' worship groups which include New Age religion, paganism, Wicca, druids and ancient Norse beliefs.

Cadet Nicole Johnson, a member of the earth-centred group, told the Gazette: 'This is very important for us, we didn’t have a place to call our own, to be outside in nature.'

Ms Johnson said she and the others had to meet in an engineering classroom before pushing for the construction of the Cadet Chapel Falcon Circle was erected on a 7,200-foot hill top that overlooks the main cadet chapel.

Major Joshua Narrowe, a rabbi at the academy, said chaplains signed off the earth-centred chapel and pushed for its construction. He said though they are not a big group, it is a religious need.

Last year at the academy, a cross which was made from rail road ties and erected at another outdoor site that was used for Wiccan rites sparked controversy. 

And it appears they are not taking their chances with the pagan chapel either. Security is tight at the site and there are several cameras surrounding the circle of stones with several signs warning that it is under surveillance.

The Rev David Oringdreff, who heads a Wiccan congregation in Texas, offered prayers at Tuesday’s ceremony and said: 'Nowhere except for the United States of America would this be possible.'

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1383855/Pagans-rejoice-Air-Force-Academy-opens-outdoor-chapel-Wiccans-Druids-earth-centred-worship-groups.html#ixzz1LbGjOw5S