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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Devil's Bird

The Mothers and Fathers reckoned the Horned One as god of animal life generally—what, in History of Religions lingo, is known as a “Master of Animals”—but for all that, he is rarely ascribed a sacred bird of his own. Birds, of course, are given mostly to the Sky Powers: raptors to Thunder, water-birds to Sun and Moon, etc. It's fascinating that these centers of the animal god's being should be given to other gods, as if they somehow constitute his yearning for them, as Earth's quartz yearns to the Moon. But to Himself the lore alots the merest handful: corvids, perhaps the peacock (see below), the robin (as Promethean bringer-of-fire) and, of course, the cock.

Everyone knows that the rooster—I suppose one really must say “cock” here—is the Devil's bird, (“Men call me the Devil,” he is reputed to have told Scots witch Isobel Gowdie, “but men know not what they mean”), and better it be if it's black. It's a staple of Southern (American) folklore that to invoke the Devil you sacrifice a black cock at a crossroads. Why a cock? Standard etiology would have it that the cock, being preeminently the bird that proclaims the coming of light, is the sworn enemy of the Prince of Darkness, Enemy of Light. But, as one might expect, matters are considerably more complex than that.

The domestic chicken originated in Southeast Asia and, it would seem, first came to the British Isles with the Romans (Yeates 166). Nonetheless, one finds the cock's head associated with the Horned One on the coinage of the Dobunni, the Keltic tribe that in later days morphed into the Hwicce, the “Tribe of Witches.” The rooster has a reputation as the most virile and pugnacious of birds, a fitting emblem for the father and protector of the people, the Pater Hwicciorum (Yeates 165-9). (Interestingly, though, the use of “cock” for “penis” derives, not from the name of the bird, but from the sense of “water-tap.”)

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Day I Cast Out Satan

Continuing the story of my personal journey on my heathen path, I had to confront an entity that answered to a name of Satan-- I won't write the actual name here. This thing was dark, cold, and evil; it was definitely not an angel, fallen or not, nor any kind of light-bringer, so although it answered to Satan, it was not Lucifer. 

 

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Hit Piece in Sheep’s Clothing

One Saturday when I was chatting with the Native American chaplain who sponsors our Wiccan circle at San Quentin, he handed me a book.  He’d received it from the Jewish chaplain who’d been our previous sponsor.  Wicca’s Charm: Understanding the Spiritual Hunger Behind the Rise of Modern Witchcraft and Pagan Spirituality, by Catherine Edwards Sanders.  I said I was unfamiliar with the author and had not heard anything about it, although I generally keep half an eye open for newer Pagan publications.

He casually mentioned that according to this book, and according to the chaplain who gave it to him, ostensibly for the small library we keep in the Wiccan storage locker along with our ritual supplies, Wicca was for women and had little relevance here in an all-male prison.  Not that he thought that, but that the book made that case.  He gave it to me to take home.  Book sl-t that I am, I took it, thinking that with all the reading material stacked around my house awaiting my attention, it would be very low priority.

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PaganNewsBeagle Faithful Friday Oct 24

In today's Faithful Friday installment of the PaganNewsBeagle, we bring you some of the more interesting stories of faith and religion we found this week. We’ve got: Hindu-Americans celebrate Diwali; Brazilians (even non-Catholics) love the Virgin Mary but Afro-Caribbean believers there feel under attack; and an amazing Japanese Shinto festival.

Hindus this week are celebrating Diwali, the Festival of Lights. American Hindus are using the holiday to educate others about their religion.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Yesterday, my friend Erick DuPree posted a very thoughtful piece on embracing the secular Halloween and avoiding the ancestor reverence that is so important to many pagans and witches this time of year.  In a very touching way, Erick discussed his troubled history with his father and his wish to separate himself from the misogyny and racism that permeates his family line.  That same misogyny and racism is likely to pollute the family line of every person of European descent, including myself, so that is a decision I can fully understand.

Yet, I feel like there are still reasons to do ancestor work.  Don’t get me wrong – I’ve never been very good at ancestor work.  I have an ancestor altar at which I pay my respects daily, but I don’t do nearly as much work contacting my family on the other side as many other witches do.  I’m just processing my own thoughts as a person who (I think) shares a similar family history and was touched by Erick’s comments.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_milky-way-and-haystack-rock.jpgI’ve felt a lot closer to Star Mother since moving to Oregon in 2013.  I've really felt closer to the Vanir in general since moving out here, but right now I will talk about connecting with Star Mother.

When I first moved to Portland I took a lot of walks at night to calm down (as my move had been under less than ideal circumstances and I had a lot to deal with in a very short amount of time, I was pretty stressed) and it became a meditative exercise.  When I moved to a semi-rural area in January of this year, there was a lot less light pollution and I could see the stars more clearly in the sky (though enough light pollution that I couldn’t see beyond a few handfuls); this past Imbolc, I went for a ride out to a more remote location, and for the first time in my life I saw the Milky Way, and the sky dotted with what seemed like millions of stars.  It was a sight that moved me to tears, and I couldn’t speak except to say, in Eshnesk (the language of the Eshnahai, or Vanic elves) Alekteya, Naiandu Adami.  (lit. “Blessings, Star Mother.”)  There was joy, but also what I can only describe as holy terror.  It was so beautiful, the sky seemed endless, and I felt very, very small.  I could feel the presence of Something much bigger than myself, and in her embrace, I felt like a child again.  As powerless as I felt, so tiny - a tiny pale dot on a tiny blue dot in the vastness of space - I felt held, at the same time.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Seasonal Protection Magick

Life is uncertain. If you turn on the news, you will be subjected to a constant barrage of All the Horrible Things. But even beyond that, there are always things that can harm us, whether they are acts of nature, acts of man, or just bad luck. There is no way we can keep bad stuff from happening once in a while, but it never hurts to do a little protection work to give yourself and your loved ones a bit of a boost in that direction.

I try to do serious protection work for my house and property at least once a year, in the fall as I am shutting things down and closing up the house for the winter. The coming week, leading up to Samhain on the 31st, is a perfect time for these kinds of rituals and spells (although they will work any time, of course). The darkness is closing in as the days grow shorter, and with the veil becoming thinner, it is always a good idea to reinforce your defenses.

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