Every now and again, I'll get the urge to just write a passing thought down. They most often end up being more of rants and ramblings than intelligent essays. Sometimes they are inspiring, informative, thought-provoking, or just plain boring and useless - sometimes never actually reaching a point to the rant. For the sake of promoting ideas and sharing somewhat informative opinions, I've decided to list some of my random writings here. May you find them helpful.
List of Ramblings:
After challenging and losing to the Goddess Athena, or Her Roman-counterpart, Minerva, Arachne died, but was brought back to life and changed into a spider by her winning opponent. From that day on, Arachne became the weaver of fate and destiny.
As everyone knows, fate or destiny is a path laid down and everything is inevitable. However, everyone also knows what happens when a fly or other insect is caught in a spider's web. All through life we walk along the web that Arachne has spun for us. We follow its every strand, every curve. Sometimes we enjoy its pure silvery-white beauty. Other times we can't handle its stickiness. When given opportunities, only one choice is mapped out on the web. When we decide on a different choice, our actions are like flies or butterflies, tearing apart the web and changing destiny. Arachne must completely redo the entire web.
What Arachne spins is not necessarily destiny. Her webs are merely possibilities. Just as any person who uses the tarot, runes, palmistry or other forms of divination will tell you, what is seen is merely what will happen, in this case, if you follow Arachne's web. What will actually happen depends entirely on you.
As I study further and get more serious into Wicca, I find myself more and more appalled by a number of people in the community. I can't say that they are wrong, as every person is entitled to their individual beliefs, and theirs are no more or less valid than my own. However, many of them do not fit the term "Wicca." They are following sets of beliefs that changed a little here and there and have now evolved into something new.
It is not completely their fault, though. I'll admit that original Wiccan rules were made in fear of discrimination and aren't really necessary today (ex: deny the existence of witchcraft, etc.). Others were made that contradict laws of science (which explains nature, that Wicca adheres to), and so can be stretched (the necessity of working skyclad really isn't that necessary). Also, rituals should be open for editing. Some words die out to future generations, and some do not appeal to the sincerest of practitioners. Then there are circumstances which may call for immediate ritual, leaving the practitioner no time to prepare for a lengthy, set ritual. Some changes and minor modifications can be necessary for the continuation and comfort level of a religion.
But many authors stress that these alterations are okay. There's nothing wrong with that, but their choice of words leave readers to believe that they can change all the rules around, aside from the Rede, and continue to call themselves Wiccans. If an individual is not at a point that they are so familiar with a religion that they can tell you the main structure, they shouldn't be so quick to claim that religion as their own. Years down the road, they'll still be calling themselves by a term that their beliefs have since moved far from.
I often hear the question, "What does being a witch mean to you?" I sometimes wonder if this is a misleading question. On one hand, it makes it sound like a witch can by anything you think it is. While "witch" is a very general term, it isn't just a what-you-think-it-is term. A witch can be a number of things (healer, wise one, herbalist, shaman, layer of curses, and so on), but not anything. A witch isn't a clown, though a witch may be one. A witch isn't a ruler, though a ruler may be a witch. Fortunately, of the answers and responses I've heard, this doesn't seem to be a problem.
On the other hand, the question may create answers that other people hold as definitions. A kind-hearted person could be turned away from a response that contains anything negative and harmful. A person who does not hold ethics such as "harming none" may be offended by a response that refers to all witches as following some sort of karmic law. Some people forget that "witch" isn't defined by any codes of conduct, ethics, etc. The word "witch" is defined as a practitioner of witchcraft. Witchcraft can contain many things, good and bane. Anything that falls under "witchcraft" can be used in a personal definition of "witch."
Although the question, "What does being a witch mean to you?" may be misleading in some cases, it is a great question for self-reflection. The question needn't be asked publicly and answered in mass. An individual can ask it of themselves. "Know thyself."
In the past, I think I may have been quick to judge others and consider them "fluffy" fakers or leaning on a crazy side. But time and time again, I have agreed that belief is power. If one truly believes in what they say they do, then it must be true, even if only to them. Coming to this conclusion, I wonder if maybe these people come across those that do not believe them for a reason.
If we give comfort and advice while briefly believing what they believe (a connecting of personal worlds), then we can offer them reassurance that they are on the path they need to be (that they aren't just crazy). By advising them while believing what they believe, we aid them in their progression, though it be in a different state. In return, they open our minds to the possibilities and worlds or realms that we may otherwise have over-looked, and thus somehow aid in our own progression.
Perhaps, these past millennia, we humans have been thinking inside the box. Maybe it's time to open the top and explore what else the Universe has to offer our souls.
Some of the best books on Wicca are exacting. The authors are presenting their ideas as fact. For some readers, it doesn't matter how much the author stresses that they are presenting their way, if they use words like "must," then they are too exacting and not worth reading.
Is a book full of lies and immoral "ethics" a better source of information just because it doesn't have words like "must," than an accurate and ethical book that does? The word "must" is not a dirty word. Readers give it more power than the authors intended it to have. An example:
An author opens a book stating, "The procedures in this book are based on my personal practice." In a later chapter, they say, "The altar must always face East."
Readers forget the opening statement and focus on that part alone calling the author too exacting when all he/she said was, "In my personal practice, the altar must always face East." What's wrong with that? It's exacting for the author, but he/she never said your practice absolutely had to be the same as theirs.
The point is, even if a reader flinches at "exacting" words, they should remain open to the information that is presented. Why waste a possibly great source of information just because of a couple words?
In fear of spreading discrimination in the Wiccan community, we often sugar-coat the past. Whenever authors write a wonderfully accurate account of Christianity and the Church's early days and their actions to "take down" the old religions, we are harsh to them by saying they are being too hard on Christianity. Newcomers will read it and suddenly start the "more persecuted" complaint and hold irrelevant grudges against innocent followers of Christianity.
After reading over these comments, I begin to wonder if we go overboard with this. While there are a limited few authors who write these accounts with a (hidden) intention of promoting rebellious, hate-filled emotions, most authors are just presenting facts. Christianity's past is filled with more bloodshed than most other religions. It is a fact. But does this say Christianity is the only religion linked to bloodshed? Does this mean all Christians like to see spilt blood? Of course not! Some of the world's greatest people have had shady pasts. Why shouldn't that be true of a religion? While the Church may have caused many problems including the quality of life, it has finally evolved in recent decades. They are moving on beyond their past.
It is hard to explain what happened when only presenting a small portion of a side of story. It's like hearing only one side of a long phone conversation. We shouldn't be attempting to censor the truth, but perhaps explain the truth in ways to avoid the confusion that leads to discrimination and/or hate. Who are we to scream, "Truth! Integrity! Diversity! Tolerance!" when we're trying to hush others?
In our community, we have people who do place curses and hexes on others. They have their reasons, and they are moral ones. However, others, and by that I mean the larger portion of the community, are quick to judge them. They claim those people are immoral and have broken the Rede. Even those who understand the Rede as, not a law, but advice, are quick to scream that the Rede was ignored. Who are these people to judge?
When determining such a thing for Wicca, we should look at its early beginnings. We turn to Gerald Gardner. Yes, I know, "Don't be so Traditional," and "Religions are meant to evolve." But this is a matter of going in the "wrong" direction. Yes we are meant to evolve, and as such some things will change. However the past is sometimes the key to understanding our present and future.
Obviously, from the very beginning, we were meant to keep protective measures in mind. To randomly place curses or hexes or to do so for vengeful reasons is, in Wicca, immoral. However, to curse/hex/bind someone in order to prevent them from causing harm (harm to prevent a greater harm), is not immoral and cannot be looked down upon. Such an action must be given twice the amount of thought, and, indeed, I have never met anyone who has placed a true curse that did not heavily weigh the options over and over again.
The Law of Return does do its job even in such moral cases. No matter the outcome, the one who performed the curse must live with the consequences of their action. For someone who has weighed the options and cursed to protect themselves and others is brave and admirable.
There is a reason that people say, "Judging others is wrong." They say it because it's true. If one must judge, they must have all the information from all sides of the situation. There are bad people in the world. There are seemingly nice people who do bad things. But do not assume that someone is one of these people just because they did something that you believe is wrong. Not everything can be light and fluffy. There are dark sides to all the good in the world.
Most individuals who have known me for many years are aware that I started on the path of Wicca as the usual fluffy solitaire. This is generally a common way to start any path as we are so happy to have found something that finally fits exactly who we are, but are left to map the path on our own. As I was waking up to the fluffiness of my "Wiccan" ways, I started to come across people who left Wicca at the same point. As they learned what real Wicca was, and not just what they brainstormed after reading their first introduction book to Wicca, they found that Wicca was not for them. I, on the other hand, found more structure, stability, and sense of spiritual identity in learning and practicing real Wicca versus what I first thought Wicca was. Others found themselves leaving Wicca behind simply because of the fluffies in the first place.
Roughly a decade later, I am coming across a new reason for moving away from Wicca. Fundamentalism is sweeping through in the form of Traditional Witchcraft gone extreme. Much of the fundamentalism, from my observations and experiences, has come from covens with lineage derived from Gerald Gardner. That anyone not initiated and practicing with a full coven cannot call themselves Wicca is rather absurd with all things considered. Perhaps the most important point is that Gardner was always excited to see the many and varied ways in which Wicca and Witchcraft evolved. If he were alive today, he'd probably count even the fluffies, who annoy us so much, as full-fledged Wiccans. However, the fundamentalists within Wicca fail to notice this. Instead, various groups devise new names such as "Neo-Wiccan" to differentiate the Pagans who call themselves Wicca but that Traditionalists refuse to accept as part of the "club."
I fail to see how fundamentalism in any shape or form has ever helped any of the communities it claims to protect. For Wicca, this will be no different. Yes, it's important to maintain knowledge of Old Ways and ensure we never lose sight of our history. However, things evolve for a reason. For example, secrecy is important to protect from prejudice and discrimination. However, it also implies we have something to hide. So we are out in the open and educating the public. We stand to face our enemies, look them in the eye, and tell them we are not ashamed to be who we are. Individual secrecy may still be important in some societies and local communities in the world. However, the details of the faith itself need not be sheltered. Faiths are meant to evolve as the world and societies evolve.
Although I've only touched on a few points here, I'm sure it's evident that I'm at least equally annoyed with the fundamentalism growing in Wicca as I am the fluffy bunnies. Only, at least with fluffies, most of them reach a point in their self-education that they either move on to other things or stick it out and mature. Fundamentalism does not seem to help anything. If anything it makes it worse. When I meet Pagans for the first time, I now refer to myself as a "witch with heavy Wiccan influence" lest I be berated by a fundamentalist Wiccan.
On occasion I'll happen across a Christian or Christian group who, in my opinion, are true Christians. They practice what they preach, and what they preach are the words of Jesus; the man who puts the "Christ" in "Christian." I have a lot of respect for these individuals as they understand what Christ taught. It is the importance of having faith, not necessarily the specifics of that faith, and the lack of judgment of others that will permit one into Heaven. Although Jesus laid out some other great guidelines to ensure a healthy life as children of God, these two are perhaps the most notable for those of us raised in Christian denominations who found that God chose different paths for us.
What I dub as "true Christians" remember this (and all others of Christ's teachings) as well. These Christians are warm, friendly, devoted to their faith and relationship with God, and understanding above many others who share their religious title. They are a reminder of what it was that so many men and women were willing to sacrifice their lives in the name of Christianity. They are the purest example of what it means to be Christian. I wish for the bliss of their Heaven when they pass from this world.
Despite my undying respect for these individuals, I do have one qualm. When these Christians speak of Wicca, witchcraft, and magick, they are perhaps the most understanding with one exception. They recognize our beliefs, they recognize our intentions, they recognize us as fellow children of God. Yet they maintain the source of magick, our God-given gift, of that of demonic sources. Not to say there cannot be any magick that does not have some sort of negative influence. As a "recovering" Catholic, I know the Deadly Sins and recognize the "evil" consequences when taking such behaviors to negative extremes.
Such Christians, being the wonderful Christians that they are, provide good argument for their beliefs. They provide what is, to them, proof that such magick is evil. (Never mind that when they pour their heart and soul into a prayer they are tapping into the same exact source as we do when working with spirits, angels, and deities.) I recognize this as their belief, and am open to understanding their inability to reconcile Wiccan beliefs with their own. The most notable question they present to those of us with true faith in our religion is, how do you know that the source of your personal power is good or bad?
This a perfect question! Anyone of any faith must consider such questions. One must always question their beliefs lest they be outdated or misguided. Only through questioning can one eliminate doubt and strengthen faith. Keep in mind, answers cannot be based off another's thoughts or words. Such questions require personal reflection putting a grain of salt to the words of others. (This means no quoting of books, scriptures, lectures, webpages, random pamphlets, etc.) Only through personal thought and reflection can faith be strengthened. Those who would have you believe faith is blind are generally those with an agenda to make you believe their faith blindly. The faith God wishes for you is that in which you have lived and experienced for yourself to be true.
And here is also where these Christians miss the point of the question they just asked. They provide the answer that the source is bad with their answers, quoting the Bible (not the words of Christ). The problem here is that there is no answer to this question. Or, rather, the answer is that one cannot know. If we are to trust that a Christian prayer performed in much the same way as a Wiccan ritual (stating of intention, raising power, releasing power) only directing personal energy to God rather than the specific intent directly is not coming from a dark, demonic force, then how can any Christian contradict this assumption in the case of Wiccans? Or, should we assume that such true prayer is really petitioning to some devil and subject to all the negative things Christians preach about magick?
My point here is not to start an argument against Christianity or Christian views of Wiccans. Instead, I offer the same challenge to Christians as they do to us: How do you know that the source of witches' magick is good or bad? Rest assured, the non-Bible quoted answers that one knows the source is bad are likely the exact same answers that a witch will give that they know the source is good! The answer to this question can only ever be a matter of perspective. Let it be one's own perspective guided by one's relationship with God and not that of the words of others.
In Wicca, sex is sacred. To the outsider this does not seem so apparent. Wicca does not hold any one particular sexual expression as the only "right" way. Wicca also does not believe sex is solely for the purpose of procreation; however, sex is certainly a creative act and one that symbolizes creation. Because of this, Wiccans may exhibit a variety of sexual lifestyles. We do not judge each other should we choose to be heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual. Likewise, we do not judge against whether one is monogamous or polygamous. Socially deviant sexual behaviors are not considered wrong in Wicca.
Wiccans are expected to adhere to their individual preferences based upon their personal comfort levels, morals, and values. So how does this translate into the act of sex being sacred? Regardless of one's individual preferences, sex is an act of love and respect. When a Wiccan engages in sexual activity, no matter what form it takes, the partner or partners involved are treated with love and respect. Love in this case does not necessarily mean that the partner is the Wiccan's life-mate, but it does mean that they recognize the divine spark within each other. Love comes in many forms (ex: between romantic partners, lovers, friends, etc.), but sex without it is nothing more than objectifying one's partner.
If sex without love is objectifying one's partner, then it becomes obvious that the key component to treating sex as sacred is respect. Objectifying each other takes away from what is sacred about sex and turns it into something negative. Likewise, because of the varied sexual lifestyles, a Wiccan is expected to be honest about his or her preferences and intentions prior to beginning any sort of sexual relationship. For example, an individual who is not monogamous is expected to reveal this information in the event that the intended sexual partner is monogamous and vice versa. To omit such information may be perceived as a betrayal of trust and is disrespectful to the partner or partners.
In a religion that honors sex as sacred and that finds all acts of love and pleasure to be acceptable, love and respect are required. Without respect, the act of sex in any of its forms becomes perverted and can cause emotional and/or psychological harm. As the Wiccan central belief is to harm none unless to prevent a greater harm, there is is no reason for a Wiccan to engage in any sexual behavior without love and respect of both her/his partner(s) and her/himself.
I often hear the question: "Does a Wiccan have to be a vegetarian?" Usually, this idea stems from the Wiccan Rede of harming none. Even those who accept the additional "unless to prevent a greater harm" this still implies we would not kill an animal as this would be causing harm. However, I tend to focus more on the idea that we should look to nature for answers. There are carnivores and omnivores in nature. In fact, when I hear this question I often think back to Disney's live action version of The Jungle Book. While the antagonist is explaining all the weaponry in his quarters and how they are used to kill, the protagonist asks, "Do you eat him?" After receiving a "no" response, he asks, "Then is he trying to eat you?"
Food and self-defense are two reasons for killing that are perfectly justifiable. It's not even a gray area. This relates well to the Rede. Would starving to death be a greater harm than to kill an animal for food? If you became the prey, I assure you your hunter will not waste time and energy contemplating the importance of self-preservation over harming none. As humans, eating meat is not necessary in every setting. However, there is nothing in Wicca that suggests it would be wrong or unnatural to consume the flesh of animals.
Personally, I am vegan. I believe it is unnatural to consume dairy after being weened from our mothers' milk. The only reason any humans have the enzymes to properly digest milk is because they continue consuming it. Those who stop consuming dairy completely lose that ability and become sick from attempting to eat anything with even the smallest amount of dairy. However, I also applaud humanity for being genius enough to consume milk when they were not receiving enough nutrition without it. In other words, it is not wrong to consume dairy after we've been weened. It is simply an oddity to do so.
When it comes to meat (including poultry and fish) and eggs, I think it's perfectly natural for humans to consume them. Why don't I? Protest. Plain and simple. The mass meat producers do not treat the animals right, pump them full of steroids and hormones that can be harmful to both the animals and those who later consume them, and then do not adequately ensure the humane killing processes are followed as they should be.
I've had some ask why I simply do not buy local and free range. Three reasons. As a vegan I have inspired far more to research and buy from local farms than I would if I were simply buying my meat outside of the grocery stores. Secondly, if I continued to consume meat, would I not still eat meat when I go out? After all, I have very limited choices as a vegan at restaurants and the like. Eating meat, nothing would stop me from supporting those mass meat producers through purchasing meals through restaurants and fast food establishments. Most importantly, many of the "free-range, humane" small farms are pressured to keep up with the mass producers and engage in the same awful practices or partner with slaughter houses that do.
(For a better understanding of the vegan lifestyle and why anyone would go vegan, check out the film Vegucated at http://www.getvegucated.com/.)
The bottom line in all of this is simply that I am Wiccan and vegan. However, there is nothing connecting the two. Okay, not nothing. I have strong opinions. I open my eyes and research the world around me. I do not know everything, but I do not hide when faced with the truth. There are often multiple choices of action when faced with such truths and none are any more right or wrong than the others. My choice to be vegan is not one encouraged by my faith. It is my personal choice. So do Wiccans have to be vegetarians? As a vegan Wiccan, I say absolutely not. That's a lifestyle decision individuals must make for themselves.
Let me start by saying there is a significant difference between being accepted by the mainstream and mainstreaming (becoming the mainstream). Now I get mainstreaming Pagan values, like reverence for nature and respecting differences. I can even get on-board mainstreaming Pagan music and artists (I am both a Pagan and a writer, after all) and the like. But why would any Pagan in their right mind "fight to mainstream Paganism"? Instead of my usual wordy rants, here's a list of reasons this is bad or, at least, not very well thought out.
When the mainstream shifts naturally and over time, there is opportunity for healthy growth and development of cultures. When you force a religious/spiritual way of thinking and living your life onto a culture, you create problems while breeding a worse culture than you began with. Isn't that the complaint about the current mainstream? Set the dreams of a society where Paganism is the mainstream aside for awhile. Instead, let's focus on ourselves and the current Pagan community first.
Let me start off by saying that this rant is not in any way, shape, or form a protest against the school or meant as a warning to avoid them. Quite the contrary, I love that they've been around for so long and providing free information in a course set-up. Most online schools for Pagans get pricey or are run by individuals with little to no experience and/or new to Paganism. In that regard, Witch School should be applauded.
Here's my issue: If this is a respectable, legitimate school (not saying it isn't, just questioning) then why is it so hard to create quality, proofread courses with tests that match the coursework? For those unfamiliar with how their classes are created, they rely completely on volunteers. This means mentors may have no experience teaching, and may have no grasp of spelling and grammar. I've only come across a few courses that both flow logically and are not all chopped up from copying and pasting from one program to another (very easy to fix). I'm not talking about the occasional typo or error; I'm referring to poor quality that is shameful of any organization let alone one calling itself a school.
A worse issue are the test questions. When the grammar is shoddy at best, it's a guessing game understanding what you are being asked. It's one thing to change up the wording to make the test challenging; it's another to confuse students who just spent however long trying to translate your writing. In some courses - even beautifully done ones - questions are asked that the answers aren't in the coursework (I've verified by going back and searching the text). It's not hard to ensure you ask questions that match the information you provide.
Now if you're running a respectable school dependent on volunteers, the first thing you need is at least one editor who does nothing more than proofreads submitted courses. For an organization as long standing and otherwise successful, what is the money really going toward? (They put more into their social site but not the coursework that is the foundation of their school and heart of their mission?)
This is the reason for my major gaps in going through lessons. But here's my reason for this tirade today: I decided to log in and go through some lessons for the first time in I don't know how long. I finished up Crystal and Gem Magic course. Since I was limited on time, I did the Course Mentoring course as it is one lesson long. It's broken up terribly on most pages and is so poorly written I'm curious if it was first written in a different language and then copied and pasted from an online translation generator. The test questions were even worse, making it nearly impossible to understand.
Here's the major point: the mentoring course serves as a guide for volunteers who create courses. There's tons of points on expected behaviors with the warning about how we need to abide by these points if we are to protect the reputation of Witch School as professional, educational, and respectable. I won't argue with the material there (at least, how I think the author meant it), but I have an issue. You are a school! The number one thing to be taken as professional, educational, and respectable is to provide quality courses that are coherent, academic (even when brief and written for the non-academic masses), and demonstrate dedication to teaching to provide an atmosphere of learning and growing.
And who do you think wrote and published this horrible (albeit well-intended) excuse for a class? A volunteer getting paid nothing and whose background and academic experience isn't verified? Nope. The very head of the school in most regions (most of which, English should be her primary language). And that is the precedent in which all courses will match. Someone better tell them that what makes a good school is the quality of the courses, not the quantity.
© 2003-2015 by Evylyn Rose