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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in witch

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The Other Season of the Witch?

I'm currently getting into the Yule spirit by reading a new Llewellyn title. The book The Old Magic of Christmas by Linda Raedisch is a collection of Christmas traditions that many of us may not be familiar with. Creatures such as elves, gnomes, and werewolves roam the wintry landscape and leap off the pages. Goddesses and witches also make appearances, which has helped me to look at the Christmas season in a new light.

Yes, this book focuses on historical Christmas traditions, but Raedisch posits that many of these traditions and tales have their origin in Europe's pre-Christian past. I'm inclined to agree.  This book really does explore the "old magic" of the season. For instance, there is an interesting tension between the feminine aspect of death and birth in many of the folk customs that are described. Much like the traditional Halloween, there is the juxtaposition of the crone witch with the young woman who tries her hand at fortunetelling for fertility, luck, and husband-seeking.

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  • Jeanine Byers
    Jeanine Byers says #
    Love the idea of a Christmas witch!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Stonie Rivera and a Samhain Supper

For this Halloween blog entry of mine, I would like to give our kind attention to a truly fascinating interview subject, Stonie Rivera. Rivera has been a a local legend on the Milwaukee music scene for some time. Her punk bands Dummy Club and the Psycho Bunnies were well-loved and the former performed memorably at last year's, "Lest We Forget" concert at Turner Hall Ballroom, which also highlighted the talents of Die Kreuzen. The following are some of Rivera's thoughts on music, the arts, and running an underground art gallery which also houses a pleasant collection of occult supplies. And oh yes, she is a practicing witch.

 

On her musical influences Rivera had this to share: "My musical background came as a child, my dad was a musician and we always had music on in the house– everything from classical to jazz, Motown, opera, R&B, Soul. Mom was a huge fan of Little Richard & Fats Domino. Growing up in the sixties was an excellent time to really appreciate music. Music became a part of the civil rights and anti-war movements and we grew up in a really intense time of change. My biggest influences were groups like the Ronettes, the Marvelettes, Tina Turner, Ketty Lester, Billie Holiday, and The Rolling Stones."

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a1sx2_Thumbnail1_Courtney-Weber_139al-DSC_00761.jpgLet my worship be within the heart that rejoices, for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. Therefore, let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.

I love the Charge. Who doesn’t love the Charge? Don’t you just want to roll around naked on it? I do. Its words read like goose down on the soul. Acts of Love and Pleasure are rituals of the Goddess??? Such an awesome faith. Beauty? Strength? Honor? Humility? GIMME ALL OF THE ABOVE WITH AN EXTRA SIDE OF EARTH WORSHIP! A few lines from the Charge re-set me when I’m tired and inspire me when feeling pretty uninspired. When I recite it, I feel my own soul’s desires streaming through the beloved words. Dear Goddess, I’m thinking, please let me exemplify those tenets of my faith like all those enlightened Witches I see in Facebook memes: The peaceful, smiling ones in the sunlit or moonlit groves of trees, sun or moonlight streaming onto their radiant/natural face and badass corseted, bell-sleeved dresses. Like You said, I’m sure I could find it within me...if I seek super hard…

Except for that part with the “C” word in it. For a nano of a second, my stream of Divine communion is most always interrupted. What does the Charge mean when it mentions “compassion”?

It’s such a peaceful word—the stuff that memes were made of. For a year, I’ve been scribbling about Compassion in my journal during my subway commute. It’s one aspect of Witchcraft’s spiritual practice that I find most ambiguous. It doesn’t seem as though there is a general consensus on the word’s identity.

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  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Courtney, I wish I had time for the lengthy response your blog deserves, but at least i have time to say: Reading your post was a
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    PS I was not clear, drat! I was talking more about my feelings than about fact, feelings of being a lone ranger, rather than actua
  • Courtney Weber
    Courtney Weber says #
    It's cool! I felt where you were coming from! Thank you for reading and responding--it is a pleasure to meet you, too!

b2ap3_thumbnail_jess.jpg

 

When I met Reverend Jessica LaReau in an Intro to Wicca class taught by Reverend Peter Hertzberg of Northern Lakes Temple, I was struck by her kindness and generosity. In a comfortable room above Mimosa Bookstore in downtown Madison, the class worked from a text containing basic information found in witchcraft. As a newcomer, I hadn't received the book. Without prompting, Reverend Jessica, also of Northern Lakes Temple, offered her book to me. Later, the text "A Dedicant's Guide to 1st Degree Priesthood" would become a resource for any tree magick I decided to try. A few weeks later, the class hit on the topic of familiars. Being an Aries, I immediately decided that if others had familiars – and seemed rather content about having them – then I might as well have one, too. Not exactly an expert on the subject, I aimed question after question at Reverend Peter, who seemed to grow tight-lipped after a while. I liked Peter tremendously, and if there was an opportunity to banter with him, I'd pounce on it tout de suite. This afternoon, though, Peter seemed to dig in his heels, much as a spectacled mountain goat that would not be coaxed or pushed from his terrain. Patiently, Reverend Jessica explained that maybe my familiar would or had come with a specific purpose such as protection. Any preconceived notions I formed – and perhaps those notions would be shaped by Peter's answers – would possibly interfere with the reason behind the familiar's arrival.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Walpurgisnacht

Walther knew.  But he could not resist,what ten-year-old could?  Every year was the same.  Grandmother Dunkelhaus would shake her finger at him and warn, “Walpurgisnacht, the devil’s night—you stay indoors.  Devils,witches, ghosts—they come, they get little boys, eat you.”  Then she would snap together her shiny wooden teeth—clack!—as if she knew the flights of witches first hand.

 

But this year—tonight!—he would know, he and Elsa.  “We must see,” they had promised one another.  Walther slipped out this afternoon, to sleep a while in the orchard as Elsa had suggested.  The nap should help him stay awake tonight.  He had put apples in his rucksack and a handful of matches—also Elsa’s idea. She swore she would sneak away with a lamp.  He looked around the room; never know what you might need.  His woolen cap and sweater would keep him warm—spring was on the calendar, but not in the night air.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

You may have heard, as it was not without its own bit of controversy, that the Temple of Witchcraft has bought property in Salem, NH, and is doing a fund drive for our parking lot. Why start with a parking lot? Simple: no parking lot, no temple. To gain the town's approval, a religious organization in a residential zone requires a paved lot with adequate space, lighting, and drainage.

Beyond the parking lot itself, some have asked why do Pagans, Wiccans and Witches need a temple at all? Aren't we meant to practice solitary, or in small groups in people's homes, or outside? And if I'm not in the Salem, NH, area, why should this even matter to me? All important questions and here are some thoughts in response to many of the discussions I've had with people over the last few months:

Land Based Traditions – Most Pagan and Witchcraft traditions have a spiritual link to the land, and believe in the presence of not only globalized entities, but local land spirits. Divinity is expressed through the land itself yet, as a whole, we have little in the way of land based resources and places of worship and education. We think of ourselves as stewards of the Earth, but yet how much land do we care for directly? I've been publicly serving the Pagan community for the last twenty years, locally and internationally, and the vast majority of our gatherings are in Unitarian Churches, Masonic Halls, and metaphysical book shops. All wonderful opportunities, but none are ideal for a community to develop a relationship with one place, and the land it is on. There is not often a chance to hold ceremonies outside. Our gatherings change places often. A permanent site allows us to build cohesion and community in a different way.

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  • Stephanie Noble
    Stephanie Noble says #
    Thank you for this article! I have very often thought the same.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Romance as a literary genre is only slightly easier to define than science fiction or fantasy. To paraphrase Wikipedia, the genre focuses on the relationship and romantic love between characters, with an "emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending." Though most popular in English-speaking countries, romance is gaining in popularity around the world as more and more titles are translated into other languages. The genre has also splintered into a dozen or more subgenres (depending on where you draw the lines). Someone looking for happily-ever-after can find it in an urban fantasy setting, or the far future, or the recent past, or via time travel, or with witches and angels thrown into the mix. Romance has also evolved from its original heterosexual, monogamous (usually Caucasian) character set to feature same-sex protagonists, menage a trois, aliens with unusual body parts, shapeshifters, cyborgs -- well, you name it.

Unfortunately, a solid Pagan subgenre has yet to develop. Sure, there are lots and lots and lots of romance novels and novellas and short stories out there which feature magical protagonists. Just type "paranormal romance" into Amazon or B&N and you'll see what I mean. Just because a book features a witch or a lightning bolt-wielding God, however, does not make it Pagan- or polytheist-friendly. I have read far, far too many romance novels in which the Wiccan main character could not recite the Wheel of the Year, the magic was ridiculously flashy and over the top, the Gods were gigantic jokes, and the theoilogy nonexistent. Too often, references to "The Goddess" or "The Gods" are just throw away lines with no real spirituality or faith behind them.

Fortunately, while an official Pagan subgenre may not have developed yet, there are a few romance novels out there which will please a polytheist audience.* Or, at least, they pleased this polytheist audience. So, in alphabetical order:

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This post was inspired by reading about the second Pagan Health Survey, and I encourage all readers to go participate!

For me, being Wiccan means that I value the feminine and the metaphysical, two things that have been derided, often on the same terms. The history of healing is an interesting case study in how responding to both does not mean reversing that derision and eliminating what has been valued in the meantime (the masculine and the scientific) but restoring the value of what has been missed, finding balance and ideally integrating them both. This does not depend on me seeing myself as the literal or spiritual descendent of the medieval wise-woman or accused witch; it is an argument about current understanding of the best ways to re-enchant the world. Thus I think that the argument advanced in Ehrenreich and English's pamphlet Witches, Midwives, and Nurses about not throwing out science in order to destabilize patriarchy is equally valid when we look at it from a spiritual perspective.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

So ... yeah. I was dragged out to see the new "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" film last night. Um .... before discussing the film, let's start with a little background on the tale which (very very loosely) forms its foundation.

The original "Hansel and Gretel" was recorded by the stalwart Grimms boys in 1812. Unlike other folk and fairy tales (notably Cinderella), it has few transcultural variations: "Finette Cendron" and "Hop o' My Thumb" and possibly the Baba Yaga tales from Russia. But that's about it. The original oral fable went through a few revisions after it was written down -- religious imagery was added, and the biological mother of Hansel and Gretel became a stepmother, for example -- but it remained popular enough to be adapted into stage productions, live action films, animated films, and numerous children's books. 

Of those children's books, my favorite is Hansel and Gretel by Linda Hayward and Sheilah Beckett. It is a straightforward retelling with little nuance: clever children, bad witch, the end. Beckett's illustrations are alternately sweet and sunny, and dark and frightening, and the children are always adorable. Consider this a good introduction to the classic tale for very young readers. 

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Titles: Fairy Poems and Witch Poems

Publisher: Holiday House

Editor: Daisy Wallace

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_decorated-witchhazel-2012.jpg

 

The old agricultural year is winding down to its usual conclusion. This time of the Long Dying is still vibrant here in the southern highlands of the Appalachian mountains.  Today began in thick fog and reached a temperature nearly 20 degrees higher than the average for this day. Warm, light breeze, perfect for outside work in the garden.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    It has been unseasonably warm here, too -- but we are getting monsoons of hard rain which I can't really object to, since we had a

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