Thankful

now browsing by tag

 
 

Happy Holidays!

I decided to give you guys a video blog for Christmas. Happy holidays and may you find joy and love for the rest of your days!
Blessings and eternal love,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

Being Black And Pagan

Last night, my partner and I were watching one of my favorite shows on Hulu, the instant classic Black-ish. It’s a show that stars Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson as a mother and father of four children living in an affluent, predominately white neighborhood. While the show is filled with hilarious jokes and ridiculous situations, it also provides valuable teaching moments in every episode.

At one point, they present an episode in which one of the main characters reveals that they don’t believe in the Christian concept of God. Unsurprisingly, this causes a huge upset with the lead character, Andre—which he laments at length to his free-spirited wife, Rainbow. As he states it, black people are supposed to be Christian. Why does he make this claim? According to him, it’s “what we do.”

Being that this is a family sitcom, the situation is resolved in a very sweet, believable way. The purpose of that episode, I believe, was to show why American black people have relied on their Christian faith for so many generations, as well as to show how important it is that our community become a little more open-minded and accepting of other walks of faith.

Unfortunately, for some of us, it isn’t always easy in the real world to admit that you aren’t Christian. It’s especially difficult to come out as Pagan or Wiccan. Of course, I acknowledge that, depending on where you live, coming out of the broom closet can be tough for anyone. However, the idea that Christianity is “what we do” is disturbingly and consistently present among black Americans.

It’s this pervasive idea that makes every interaction I have with an elder a little more charged; so much so that, as much as I love talking about my path, I tend to avoid the subject of religion entirely when I’m in their presence. I won’t deny my beliefs if asked, but it’s impossible not to cringe when, after explaining I’m not Christian, the questions are followed by a lecture on why I should be—or remarks that make it clear exactly what they think of me and my blasphemous ways.

These may be entirely unique experiences, but considering that Black-ish is but one of many sources in media that restate that stereotype of black people only being Christian, it’s easier to believe that this is a common occurrence for many of us in the Pagan community.

In addition to the pressure we get from media and black Christians who believe such things, it seems that the overall Pagan community is suffering from an imbalance when it comes to visibility and representation of people of color. I’m fortunate enough to live in one of the most diverse cities in the country, and I think that’s accurately demonstrated during large Pagan gatherings (like New York’s Annual Witchsfest).

The same can’t necessarily be said for the smaller groups I attend, in which I am often the only person of color. I’m not saying this to be disparaging towards those groups—they’re wonderful and I genuinely appreciate everyone I’ve met and the beautiful ceremonies they provide. Still, I get a bit like a kid seeing a unicorn whenever I see another black person at ritual.

While there may be fewer black Pagans in America, which I’m not so sure is still true, I think the cause of this imbalance goes a bit deeper. In fact, the topic of race relations throughout the Wiccan and Pagan community is wrought with tension and disagreements. Saying that racism is still a huge problem in the community tends to push against some people’s core beliefs. They often believe that, because Wicca is such an encompassing religion, that Wiccan groups are inherently free of hatred.

This is a clear disconnect from the reality that all Wiccans/Pagans/and literally everyone else is a human with their own personalities and beliefs. When you factor in that racist terrorist groups are still allowed to operate and that there is a volatile political atmosphere currently at play, you have to acknowledge that the likelihood of every single Pagan group being intersectional and welcoming of the perceived other is extremely low.

The fact is, I would be naive to assume that just because a group is Pagan or Wiccan, they’re going to welcome me with open arms. Before I attend a group, I have to do my research. I have to ask how they’ve treated people who don’t fit into the mainstream standard Wiccan box in past. This includes how they treat black people, but I also have to know how comfortable of an environment they provide for people in the LGBTQ community, how women are treated within their internal structure, and how they treat people who don’t necessarily agree with everything they have to say.

I never recommend anyone join a group without first understanding that group’s core beliefs. That said, I want to encourage other Pagans of color to reach out more. I do think part of the reason we’re so nearly invisible in the community is because we’re still entrenched in this old idea that if we aren’t Christian, we’re doing something wrong, so we hesitate reach out.

I’ve been Wiccan for a decade and a half but, even now, I sometimes think, “What if?” What if—despite all my studies and experiences—there is a Hell and I’m going there for my beliefs? I feel deep in my heart that this isn’t true. But because of the pressure I grew up under to be Christian, and because of the scare tactics that were used in the churches my family attended, I believe these thoughts are echoes of my childhood fear. I also believe I’m not alone in having them.

The seeds of fear that my religious environment planted in my childhood are like deadly weeds in my spiritual garden. When those thoughts crop up, I’m usually in a place of depression. Sometimes depression just happens and, when it does, it somehow manages to make me believe that all the good in my life is a lie. Luckily, my faith is strong enough to stamp down those dangerous, fear-based thoughts.

It’s that faith that inspired me to look for and connect with other Pagans, even in a place as religiously strict as the town in which I grew up. By that point, I was already an outcast for a whole list of other reasons, so I didn’t have much to lose by stepping out into the light.

I realize this isn’t the case for everyone. Many black Pagans have a lot more to lose than I did. The fear of being ostracized, disowned, and becoming the subject of the family rumor mill is powerful. That said, I want to urge my fellow black Pagans to act against these fears and make a real effort to not only become part of the current community, but to come together and create groups in our own communities, which typically don’t get much Pagan exposure.

It’s not solely up to the majority to create space for people of color, it’s our duty to create our own facilities. I could be biased because I’ve always been the kind of person who, if I see something I want but don’t have a route to it, I tend to try to forge my own way. This means I have to be flexible with my goals and the way I achieve them, while still maintaining a clear objective.

Some day, I’d like to see Pagan schools that are just as common as Catholic schools. I don’t know the exact steps I’ll take to get there, but I do know that my goal influences how I choose to run my business and my life. I want this because I want to send my future little witchlings to such a place. However, dreams like that can’t be achieved by just one person. My goals ultimately affect the Wiccan community, and therefore it’s essential that I try to be an active and helpful member.

Whatever your goals are, you’re going to need a support system. No one exists in a vacuum. If your Wiccan or otherwise Pagan faith is important to who you are, then be willing to step forward so that you can find and create your tribe. We’re doing no favors by remaining in the shadows. Too many little black kids are raised with no choice in what they believe, no other visible options, and the lesson that our religion is evil. I think it’s time for that to change.

I’m Pagan. I’m black. I’m proud.

 

What are your experiences concerning diversity and representation in the Pagan community? If you’re a person of color, what is your experience being Pagan in your community?

Thank you and with love from the moon and back,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

I’m not a very political person, but I do think this is an issue that should be discussed. If you’re interested in my less witchy, more creative work, go ahead and sign up for my author newsletter here!

Rhyme All The Time!

Raise your hand if you love spells that rhyme. Just kidding, don’t raise your hand. I can’t see you and you’re probably disturbing the people around you. But if you figuratively raised your hand, I’m right there with you. Spells that rhyme are the bees-knees (not that I know much about bees or their leg anatomy).

In a previous entry, I mentioned some of our favorite Wiccan texts, including the Wiccan Rede. Most new Wiccans hear of the Rede early on in their practice, as it’s known as our “golden rule” of sorts. Nowadays, in the era of memes and short-form information sharing, the Rede is most often boiled down to the phrase “Harm None.”

However, as you probably know by now the Rede is actually much longer (and if you didn’t know, you can read it here). Harm None is a neat and tidy phrase, but it’s actually the end of a lengthy poem. Ten years ago, we’d only shortened it to some variation of “An it harm none, do as ye will.” Five years before that, I couldn’t open a book without seeing the mouthful that is the final line of our Rede: “Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill – An it harm none, do what ye will.” From the very beginning, I was drawn in by the musicality of our most basic tenets.

Recently, I was thinking about my first personal spell—that is, one I wrote myself—which I, of course, made rhyme. It was a love spell and while I never won my target’s affections, the experience of that particular ritual sticks with me more clearly than my first self-dedication, which I don’t remember at all.

Then I thought about some of my favorite and most frequently used spells and chants. While I don’t rhyme for every ritual or spell in my book, there are certain ones—like the spell to find a lost object—which I use rather frequently, so rhyming makes each of them easier to remember.

This is due to something called mnemonics. I can’t claim to know much about mnemonics, except that they’re tools used to help aid human memory, and there are plenty of useful techniques aside from rhyming. Still, rhyming is one of the oldest and best-known methods for committing something to memory, which can be useful for people who host group rituals and prefer to be off-book.

Perhaps that is why witches have done it for so long. The fourth couplet of the Wiccan Rede states “To bind the spell fast every time, Let the words be spoke in rhyme.” It’s a case of ‘right there in the manual,’ if you ask me. Which I suppose you didn’t, so let’s move on.

Not only does rhyming make it easier to remember something, but it also engages you with the words in a way you might not otherwise find. Most people don’t typically speak in a metered style. And most witches aren’t in constant spell-mode. Much like music, rhyming spells and singing chants provides a different way of interacting with language than we do in our day-to-day lives, and so it instantly creates an elevated kind of energy.

Whether or not a spell rhymes is entirely up to the person behind it. Some people don’t prefer it and that’s totally okay. I think many of us can agree, though, that rhyming is pretty fun and an inherently beautiful, yet practical, way to work our magick.

 

Where do you stand? Do you prefer rhyming or is it simply not for you? What are your favorite rhymed spells? Let me know in the comments!

 

With infinite love,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

Today’s post would not have been possible if not for my lovely friend R, so I just wanted to extend a thank you with love to her here. So, thank you. 🙂

I also thought I’d share my favorite spell for finding lost objects below. I found this spell online many years ago, and have used it regularly ever since. Unfortunately, I can’t find the original source, but here it is:
Bound and Binding
Binding, Bound
See the sight
Hear the sound
What was lost
Now is found
Bound and Binding
Binding, Bound
Say the spell as needed, while visualizing the missing item. Then, just be patient. Depending on the item, and what actions you take towards your goal, it could take time to return.
I’ve used it for years, and it has always helped in a pinch!

Spreading the Word of Wicca

Merry meet and Blessed Samhain!

 

This week has just gotten on top of me and I forgot to type up a blog. The plan was to record a personal Samhain ritual for you folks, but sewing my costume and prepping my author newsletter took more time than I expected. So, to make up for it, I’ve gathered a couple of questions from a friend and I thought I’d answer them here for you. I tried to avoid the type of questions you might see on your typical “Ask a Wiccan” style blogs, because there are only so many ways to say “no, we don’t worship Satan.” That said, let’s move on to our first question.

 

Why do you think certain secular religions assume we worship the devil?

As I alluded to earlier, a common question that Wiccans get is whether or not we worship Satan or the devil. The answer has always been and will always be, NO, but we still get that question time and time again. According to the beliefs of Wicca, there is no such thing as “the devil.” There may be darkness in the world, but we generally don’t believe it all comes from demons nor does it come from a fallen angel. Why, then, do so many outside of our religion assume that we worship a being we don’t even think exists?
I think the best way to approach this question is to look within the religion of those who make such assumptions. Most often, when I speak of other religions and their relationship with Wicca, I’m usually referring to Christianity. That’s the only religion I’m as familiar with as I am with Wicca. Christianity is the religion I was raised to follow, and it’s the first religion I and many of my peers had ever been exposed to. In addition to that, I live in a country where Christianity is the dominant religion. Where I grew up, it was assumed that if you weren’t a God-fearing Christian, you were a bad person.

As an adult, I’ve done my research on the religion. While the underlying message can be seen as one of peace, it is still very clear what that religion thinks of anyone who is not a Christian. One of the books in the Bible states that anyone who worships a different god should be killed. Obviously, that sentiment is no longer widely held, but any witch will tell you about the many times our spiritual ancestors were hunted—how many innocent lives were lost—all in service to a twisted ideal.
Most Christians I know are peaceful, loving people. My mother is the absolute essence of love, and she is a devoted Christian. She works to understand people and be compassionate every day. She listens and accepts my beliefs. So even if she might worry a little about my soul, I think she understands that I am just as loved by God as she is. I am blessed and protected and, in truth, I am Wiccan because of the love my mother’s shown me.

Unfortunately, not every person is as understanding as my mom. Their religion says that we are evil. It says we should be killed, shunned, converted. According to those people, we worship the devil because we don’t worship their image of God. Our oldest gods had horns, and so they painted their devil with horns. We saw the strength and power of fire, and so they made that the symbol of Hell.

The relationships between various Pagan practices and Christianity are characterized by strife and conversion. Many traditions that are now common in Christian practice have Pagan origins. Some things, like our Yule, become beacons of joy and goodness. Others, like our Samhain, are demonized. These conversions occurred centuries ago, so I couldn’t say exactly why. But there are people who still believe we worship a being their religion invented.

So, what can we do about it? Or…

How do we support and promote the healthy education of non-Pagans about our beliefs?

If you’re reading this blog, then you’re probably already on the Pagan path. Most of my Maiden’s Circle related work is geared towards Pagans. The Covenpath course was created to guide individuals who have decided this is the path they wish to take. Still, I often find myself answering questions about Wicca for non-practitioners on a fairly regular basis.
As I mentioned, much of my life has been spent around non-Pagans. Since I love to share the things I’m passionate about with those I love, I’m always happy to engage in a fruitful chat about my beliefs. Now, of course, there will be those who only want to antagonize and have no interest in a friendly and educational conversation. We’ve got to be aware and know how to disengage, as those talks won’t lead to anything productive.

More often, though, the person asking is genuinely curious. I believe, as someone whose goal is to establish an educational facility for Wiccan families, it’s my responsibility to try to answer them as clearly and honestly, and with as much background knowledge, as possible.

One of the methods I used when sharing with my mother was to buy the short book When Someone You Love Is Wiccan by Carl McColman. I read it through to check for accuracy. Anything I thought was incorrect or unclear, based on my personal Wiccan practice, I added notes to. Anything I thought was particularly important, I highlighted. In essence, I provided a mini-manual of my practice that wasn’t overwhelming and was written specifically to help non-Wiccans understand us.

It isn’t always possible to give someone an entire book, and in some cases, that could be seen as lazy. Most of the time, when someone asks about Wicca, the answer has to come in the moment. The best method I have is to simply talk to people. What you know and love will come to you. Many Pagans are passionate people, so we do have to be careful not to alienate a person who is just looking for answers. We have to keep our tempers in check when someone asks a question that we might think is annoying, like “Do you worship the devil?” Most people just want to understand.

Times have changed from when witches had to hide in the shadows. The secrets we hid in the night are ready for the sun. People are inherently afraid of what they don’t understand, and now is the time to help assuage those fears. Talk to people when they ask genuine questions. Don’t engage in un-winnable arguments. Be open and share your truth. That’s the best way, I believe, to educate others and support the growth, respect, and understanding of Wicca.

How do you talk to your non-Pagan friends and family about your beliefs? How do you think they feel about your practice? How do you feel about their opinions and how do you deal with them?

 

Thank you and with all the love in my heart,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

 

Today’s post was late because I made this awesome cloak over the last two days without a sewing machine. Because I’m a masochist. And also, I was putting the latest newsletter together, which you can see tomorrow if you subscribe now!

For The Love Of Wicca

I’ve always been kind of relaxed and experimental in my practice. I’ve been the most lax concerning Sabbats and Esbats. Sabbats, if you’re unfamiliar, are Wiccan holy days that celebrate the changing of the seasons, while Esbats are what we call the celebration of the full moon. Over the last five or so years, I’ve managed to celebrate these special days in one way or another at least half the time. That’s a marked improvement on my observance of Pagan holidays when compared to my first decade of practice.

Truth be told, I’ve never been into any holiday except for Halloween. Subsequently, when I found my Wiccan way, I fell in love with Samhain and began attending group rituals to celebrate that and other Wiccan holidays in high school. A couple years later, I was celebrating the moon twice a month, full and new, with a group of solitary witches in Chicago. In September, I joined another group here in New York for my first public Mabon celebration.

This last full moon, on October 5th, I celebrated privately with a friend in her home. As always, we had a beautiful ritual. Working magick with her is consistently a fulfilling experience. While she’s held a mild interest in Wicca for years, she is now digging deeper into it than before and has graciously allowed me to take part in her journey. So, when we do private rituals, I prefer for her to take the lead.

I like this for a number of reasons, the most important of which being that I don’t want my personal practice to influence her so much that it over-powers her instincts. I can be a strong personality when I need to be, and I love to share what I’ve learned. But I find that most times it’s wiser to stay quiet and let someone find their answers on their own. Typically, I’ll sit back and follow her direction, offering input as we go, but ultimately deferring to her.

She’s been reading and exposing me to new books for Wiccans and, right now, she prefers using those books to guide our rituals. At first, part of me resisted; I’m accustomed to making up my own rituals, and I rarely use spells from books. But, for the most part, practicing with her has been a fun and intimate learning experience for me, and I can only hope she feels the same.

I’ve been a practicing Wiccan for around 16 or 17 years, and I forgot how much I relied on books in the beginning. Don’t get me wrong, I still have and love Pagan books and can’t resist buying a new one at every event, but the kind of books I read now are different. When I started, I stocked up on how-to books and every “Beginner’s Guide” I could get my hands on. As a teen, I found Patricia Telesco, who is still one of my favorite Pagan authors. Now, I’m less interested in guidebooks and more into books about history, philosophy, and spiritual balance.

At the moment, my friend is reading the books I read all those years ago, plus a ton of new Pagan authors that I’ve never even heard of. These are authors who, like me, or like Scott Cunningham before us and Doreen Valiente, seem to want to share our experience and reach out to the Pagan community, and so their material is for people in the early stages of their practice.

As an eternal skeptic, I do have a habit of bristling towards new Pagan works. Publishing online has never been easier than it is now, so it’s that much easier for people to put out inaccurate information and profit off of it. I have read books that completely disregard historical evidence, convolute different systems of belief, or imply things that are obviously untrue to someone who takes the time to do their research. It’s important for anyone starting on this path to study the origins of Wicca, meet Pagan elders, and read the bibliography of whatever Wiccan guides they choose.

That said, the majority of Wiccan books are written with good intention, and the authors have a true desire to help others. Each author offers a different facet, a new thought stream of a much larger, evolving religion. Wicca is one of the only religions I know of that is a wholly unique journey for every person that chooses it, while still allowing all of us to share and receive the message. I think it’s safe to say that (while there may be a wrong way) there isn’t just one right way to practice Wicca. Every Wiccan experience is somehow both unique and universal.

Whether you’re strictly solitary, a Circle hopper, or a coven-member, your journey is special, beautiful, and all yours. How you walk the Wiccan way is entirely up to you and I’m glad to help in whatever ways I can. Each singular experience is like a leaf on the universal tree, with its fingerprinted veins. We strengthen each other.

This entry was supposed to be about the pros and cons of following another person’s ritual word-for-word and of making up your own (either as you go or pre-writing them). Seeing as I’m already over 900 words in and I haven’t really gotten to that, I’m going to save it for another time. I suppose, this time, I had to say something about the beauty and diversity of Wicca.

What are your favorite resources to help guide you on your Wiccan path? What’s your favorite thing about being Wiccan?

With all my heart,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

Did you folks know I have a newsletter? It’s where you can find updates on my personal life and writing career, as well as brand new flash fiction each month. The first 20 subscribers will receive an exclusive mystery gift, so sign up now!

How Do I Use My Power?

All living beings possess some level of spiritual power. I believe this as much as I believe gravity holds me to the ground. Sometimes that power is dormant, waiting to be utilized—like the power of grass to fuel the horse. Other times, it’s a wild, destructive power like that of the earth’s molten core. Human beings are in the unique position of being aware not only of our own spiritual power, but that of all living beings.

With this awareness comes the responsibility to be conscious of what we do with our power. Some people abuse it, using their status in an effort to dominate others and take power however they can. Some aren’t aware they have any power at all, and many don’t believe they deserve it. I can’t begin to try to solve the power balance in the world at large, but I do believe it’s important to ask what we in the Pagan community can do on a smaller scale. How can we reclaim our power and help others find theirs?

We explore this topic early on in the Maiden’s Circle Covenpath course, as reclaiming your personal power makes sense as the first step in a journey of spiritual growth. On top of that, there are countless websites, books, and workshops geared toward personal growth. These resources provide millions of avenues for us to tap into and expand our potential.

Not everyone has access to these resources, but if you’re reading this blog, chances are high that you do. I may sound like a broken record here, but it’s up to you to decide if you’re willing to do the work to change. The resources are out there for you to find what best fits your way of life and, with patience, you’re bound to see growth no matter what path you choose.

As we work to grow within, it’s common to see increasing positive change throughout our lives. After reaping the benefits of reclaiming our spiritual power, it is necessary to consider how we’re giving back to the world. Take the time to think about what you’re doing to help balance the scales of power in our world.

I can’t tell anyone the “right” way to use their power. I can only do whatever I can with what I have. At the moment, that manifests in the form of this blog and of the Maiden’s Circle course. Through these, as well as my work with children, I hope to affect positive change in my immediate world that radiates outward.

What methods do you use to reclaim your power, and what are you doing to give back to the universe? Let me know in the comments below!

With love and a thousand blessings,
Lady Morgana Brighid, HP MCCA

Did you folks know I have a newsletter? It’s where you can find updates on my personal life and writing career, as well as brand new flash fiction each month. The first 20 subscribers will receive an exclusive mystery gift, so sign up now!

 

The Skyclad Witch

I’ve read the pages and activities in “A Charmed Life”. I simply cannot stare at myself naked in a mirror. The thought actually makes me physically ill. What on Earth should I do?

I received this question quite a while ago and filed it away with the intention of eventually putting it in the blog. It references one of the assignments in the Covenpath course in which students are asked to perform a private activity that involves standing in front of a mirror and removing their clothing, followed by a nude meditation and self-observation.*

Naturally, this is not an easy task for many—not just in the Pagan community but it’s something people struggle with throughout our society. Our attitudes toward nudity haven’t always been as friendly as they are today, and it makes sense that the idea of staring at our own stark naked bodies can be a bit terrifying.

I admit that this particular question was difficult for me to answer, as I have always enjoyed personal nudity. I’m at my most comfortable undressed, and I embrace the health benefits of regular nudity. When you factor in the spiritual and protective nature of mirrors—and that I think a home without mirrors feels oppressive—you might understand how I had to become comfortable seeing my own body.

This process, of course, can be a lot tougher for someone who isn’t accustomed to casual nudity. If you’ve lived 60 years of your life, and you’ve never taken even two minutes to gaze at your own uncovered body without judgment, this might seem nearly impossible. So, what’s a witch to do when she has trouble being naked, even when she’s alone?

The best answer I can offer is to take your time and to really try to listen to your spirit. Consider the roots of your discomfort. How are you talking to yourself? When you step out of the shower, do you turn away from the mirror or avoid looking at specific places? Similarly, do you focus on specific areas in a negative light? Why?

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that current body trends have a massive impact on how we view ourselves. The effect of societal pressure to look a certain way can be extremely damaging. How, then, is it possible to free ourselves when everywhere we turn, someone’s telling us we aren’t good enough?

My suggestion would be simply to build up to it. Move slowly, but push yourself forward. Try taking the first half of the activity and modifying it a bit. Plan a few private hours, or at least 30 minutes a day, and start with just removing one thing. Stand in front of your mirror and take off your jacket, your shoes. Watch yourself undress. It sounds strange, but the act of watching yourself remove clothing gives you an awareness and forces you to be present with yourself.

Before bed, watch as you change into your pajamas. Then, take some time to gaze at yourself in your pajamas. During the day, don’t avoid your body. Take a little longer in the bathroom to gaze into your own eyes as you wash your hands. Glance at yourself in reflective surfaces. Many of us already do this, but here’s the key: you cannot and must not judge yourself.

You have to look in the mirror and say, “This is my face. I love my face.” Do the same for your body. You might want to focus on acne or scars, but let those thoughts pass. When negative thoughts arise, repeat the phrases to yourself. Be patient and, over time, you’ll start to feel more comfortable seeing yourself in less and less.

Push yourself to move forward, but be gentle when you can’t. Do the work to understand the root of your fear and to change your attitude towards your own body. You are not just a spirit inside of a shell. Your flesh, your blood, your bones – these all are a part of you. The path we follow is one of healing and growth, and I firmly believe that we cannot be our best selves if we only treat a part of ourselves as sacred.

Keep practicing and you’ll be a skyclad witch in no time!

Remember, I love you and send a thousand blessings,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

How do you deal with body anxiety and discomfort? Let me know in the comments!

*You can find the activity on page 15 of Patricia Telesco’s A Charmed Life

The Lawful Witch

If you’re new to Wicca, you may hear a rumor in the online Pagan community that Wicca is a religion without rules. This isn’t exactly true. In the first lesson of the Maiden’s Circle Covenpath course, students are asked to read some common texts in the Pagan community known as The Ordains, as well as the Wiccan Rede and Witches Creed. These are sets of rules that Wiccans have used for guidance. Gerald Gardner, often called the “Father of Wicca,” first presented The Ordains to the public in the 1950s, and Doreen Valiente, well-known Wiccan priestess, gave us the Rede and Creed in the next two decades. For simplicity, I will refer to these collectively as the Laws.

While it is true that Wicca is an embracing and widely varied belief system that is constantly growing and evolving, these Laws have been accepted as the founding tenets for the religion. As such, they are included in the course’s introduction lesson. The lesson urges students to examine these rules and interpret them in a way that is best understood on a personal level. Students are asked to consider how they have or have not lived by these Laws and what each rule means to them.

Such a task, however, might lead to a slight panic when one realizes she doesn’t follow even half of these rules, especially some of the more archaic lines. At least, that was my response the first time I read the Ordains and the Rede. I followed that panic by trying to force every feasible rule into my life. You might imagine how overwhelming it was! I beat myself up every time I was less than pious. When that failed, I completely abandoned the Laws, waving them off as unnecessary. Doing that left me with a feeling of falseness, so I decided to take a few steps back and to re-examine these rules I’d long ago sought to understand while beta testing the course.

For a while, I just read them over and over. I thought about them in meditation and read them each time I opened my Book. I didn’t try to change my lifestyle or force myself to follow all the rules; I just read them. Over time, they began to sound different. With the Ordains, I’ve found myself incorporating most of the rules into my daily life without even noticing; and there are no feelings of guilt behind the rules I don’t follow. With the Rede, I’ve remembered history, lessons, and practices I had forgotten, concepts learned when I first began my Pagan studies over a decade ago. With the Creed, I’ve found guidance and a source of joy.

My experience this time around has been significantly less stressful, and I think that’s because I wasn’t actually trying to follow these rules when I set out. My goal was just to read them, to reacquaint myself with the words. In doing so, I’ve deepened my connection with Wicca and with the roots of my practice.

I don’t believe any set of rules should be adhered to with absolute obedience. And I think many in the Pagan community would agree. I think that contributes to the idea of Wicca being a lawless religion. But just because we aren’t a dogmatic religion, that doesn’t mean we don’t have guidelines. These Laws are a part of Wiccan history. I believe that anyone who chooses to follow a religion, no matter how eclectic their practice, should know the philosophies that helped that religion come to be.

Every Wiccan I’ve met does remember the main principle of the Laws. It is that principle that holds us together, that guides us, even when we know little else: to live our lives as we see fit, so long as we do not actively harm others. Many of us go further and take steps to try to alleviate the suffering of others, as we believe we’re all implicit in the unfortunate injustices of the world due to the makeup of modern society. We can’t cure the ills of society just yet, but we do what we can to share love and healing. That is what these Laws remind me of, and that is why they are important.

As always, with great blessings and endless love,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

Am I just old-fashioned? What do the Laws mean to you, dear readers? How do they fit into your lives? Let me know what you think in the comments!

 

The Ordains
1. And ye harm none, do as ye will.
2. If you know the Rede is being broken, you must work strongly against it.
3. Watch, listen and withhold judgment; in debate may your silences be long, your thoughts clear and your words carefully chosen.
4. Never boast, or threaten, or speak evil of anyone.
5. Be truthful always, save when speaking would lead to a great harm.
6. Keep clean your body, your clothes, and your house.
7. Should you take a task upon yourself, work hard and well to accomplish it properly and in good time. Always do the best you can.
8. Do not haggle over the price of your ritual tools.
9. Witches know that there are no absolute truths.
10. Witches understand that the universe consists of perfect balance; therefore,
everything has an opposite.
11. Witches realize that for every action there is a reaction. (The Law of Three).
12. Witches know that we are all one, we are all connected.
13. Never lie to yourself for this is the ultimate act of deceit.
14. Witches understand that the ultimate act of spirituality is the act of positive creation through love.
15. Witches realize that the energy created through worship and rituals manifests as a circular stream of positive energy.
16. Witches should never close their minds to knowledge.
17. Never practice a magickal system that you don’t fully understand.
18. Do not set a price on your magickal work.
19. A Witch uses the magickal circle as a physical and non-physical representation of a temple on the earth plane.
20. Witches use the energies around them to assist in raising power.
21. Witches use common sense and do not share their mysteries with fools.
22. A Witch who knowingly breaks the Law (Ordains) will not be permitted to
incarnate on Earth again.

The Wiccan Rede
(Full Version By Doreen Valiente)
Bide the Wiccan Redes ye must, In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust; Live ye must and let to live, Fairly take and fairly give; Form the Circle thrice about, To keep unwelcome spirits out; Bind fast the spell every time, Let the words be spoke in rhyme.
Soft of eye and light of touch, Speak ye little, listen much; Deosil go by waxing moon, Sing and dance the Witches’ Rune; Widdershins go by waning moon, Chant ye then a baleful tune; When the Lady’s moon is new, Kiss hand to her times two; When the moon rides at peak, Heart’s desire then ye seek.
Heed the North wind’s mighty gale, Lock the door & trim the sail; When the wind comes from the South, Love will kiss them on the mouth;
When the wind blows from the West, departed souls have no rest; When the wind blows from the East, Expect the new and set the feast.
Nine woods in the cauldron go, Burn them quick, burn them slow; Elder be the Lady’s tree, Burn it not or curs’d ye’ll be; When the wind begins to turn, Soon Beltane fires will burn; When the wheel has turned to Yule, light the log, the Horned One rules.
Heed the flower, bush or tree By the Lady blessed be’ When the rippling waters flow cast a stone – the truth you’ll know; When ye have & hold a need, Hearken not to others’ greed; With a fool no seasons spend, Or be counted as his friend.
Merry meet and merry part Bright the cheeks, warm the heart; Mind the threefold law ye should, Three times bad and three times good; Whene’er misfortune is enow, Wear the star upon your brow; True in troth ever ye be Lest thy love prove false to thee.
‘Tis by the sun that life be won, And by the moon that change be done; If ye would clear the path to will, Make certain the mind be still; What good be tools without Inner Light ? What good be magic without wisdom-sight ? Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill – An it harm none, do what ye will.

The Witches Creed
Hear now the word of the witches,
The secrets we hid in the night,
When dark was our destiny’s pathway,
That now we bring forth into light.

Mysterious Water and Fire,
The Earth and the wide-ranging Air,
By hidden quintessence we know them,
And we will keep silent and dare.

The birth and rebirth of all Nature,
The passing of Winter and Spring,
We share with the life universal,
Rejoice in the magical ring.

Four times in the year the Great Sabbat
Returns, and the witches are seen
At Lammas and Candlemas dancing,
On May Eve and old Hallowe’en.

When day-time and night-time are equal,
When sun is at greatest and least,
The four Lesser Sabbats are summoned,
Again Witches gather in feast.

Thirteen silver moons in a year are,
Thirteen is the coven’s array.
Thirteen times at Esbat make merry,
For each golden year and a day.

The power has passed down the ages,
Each time between woman and man,
Each century unto the other,
Ere time and the ages began.

When drawn is the magickal circle,
By sword or athame of power,
Its compass between two worlds lies,
In the land of the shades of that hour.

Our world has no right to know it.
And the world beyond will tell naught.
The oldest of Gods are invoked there,
The Great Work of magic is wrought.

For two are the mystical pillars,
That stand at the gate of the shrine,
And two are the powers of Nature,
The forms and the forces divine.

The dark and the light in succession,
The opposites each unto each,
Shown forth as a God and a Goddess:
Of this did our ancestors teach.

By night he’s the wild winds rider,
The Horn’d One, the Lord of the Shades.
By day he’s the King of the Woodland,
The dweller in green forest glades.

She is youthful or old as she pleases,
She sails the torn clouds on her barque,
The bright silver Lady of Midnight,
The crone who weaves spells in the dark.

The master and mistress of magic,
They dwell in the deeps of the mind,
Immortal and ever-renewing,
With power to free or to bind.

So drink the good wine to the Old Gods,
And Dance and make love in their praise,
Till Elphame’s fair land shall receive us
In peace at the end of our days.

And Do What You Will be the challenge,
So be it in Love that harms none,
For this is the only commandment.
By Magick of old, be it done!

Myths and Tales

As a kid, I always loved myths, especially Greek and Egyptian stories. As I grew older and started to delve into Wicca and Paganism, this love of myth grew with me. With the recent success of the new Wonder Woman movie, and the ongoing obsession Hollywood has had with superheroes in the last decade, now seems like a good time to talk about what a myth is and how they’re seen today. This entry was inspired by one of the beta lessons in the MCCA course.

In the lesson, I asked students to demonstrate an understanding of mythology, why it’s important, and to consider any modern or long-standing examples that come to mind. Mythology, as I understand it, describes the stories people tell to understand their world and the changes that take place. Hundreds and more years ago, we didn’t have the level of understanding we do now when it comes to weather, the earth, space, or the ocean. We’ve only barely breached the surface now in the grand scheme of the universe. So, people told stories to explore topics like those, as well as the nature of humankind and concepts like love and power.

No society in history has existed that did not tell stories in some form, and many of those stories were what we now consider myths, fairy tales, and legends. Some of those legends have not only lasted in the minds of man, but have been revived–in a form. This brings us to the portrayal of ancient myths in modern media, as well as the creation of new mythological heroes.

If you’re a movie fan like I and millions of other people, chances are you’ve seen a superhero movie in the last ten years. The highest grossing superhero film to date, The Avengers, presents a perfect example of an old myth brought to the modern eye with the character Thor. In fact, almost since their inception, comics and the media that branched from them have a history of taking old myths and reformatting them to suit the times. Before comics, many children may have never heard of figures like Thor and Loki, or Diana and the Amazonians. They may never have become acquainted with the underwater city of Atlantis or the heavenly Asgard. Truly, comics have kept certain heroes alive for generations.

In addition to these older stories, we have seen an influx of new heroes and legends. It may seem silly, but children have their own legendary characters they look up to. Superman seems like an obvious modern-day American legend. Children idolize the Man of Steel. They wear his colors and think of him when they’re scared. Those in harsh environments dream of their hero swooping down to save the day. Whomever the hero is, these stories appear to us as grand legends until someone tells us otherwise.

But even after we stop seeing our heroes as real, extraordinary people, even when we learn the meaning of fiction, many of us hold on to something of our childhood heroes. As children, they helped us understand the world. Superman helped us deal with bullies and helping others in need. For me, Buffy (the Vampire Slayer) helped me see that the world is full of people who feel like they don’t belong. My hero helped me navigate the rollercoaster of emotions and fears that came with growing up.

It is true that there are many different types of stories which serve the purpose of helping people understand their world. That’s basically what stories do. But myths, fairy tales, heroes—they all seem to linger in the minds of people far longer than the general story. They teach lessons, help us to grow, and give us a common thread through which to connect with our fellow humans. They are valuable because they linger. They are important, and I look forward to the future of myths, fairy tales, and great heroes.

 

Many blessings,

Lady Morgana Brighid, MCCA HP

A Bit of A Rerun

Merry meet!

This week/month/year has been hectic, to say the least. It seems that there’s been one change after another—many good, some not so much. This week in particular, I’ve bounced from one thing to another and I never seemed to find the time to write a proper entry. So, I’ve decided to share a super short story I wrote two years ago after a long meditation. I do intend to have a regularly scheduled post in the following weeks, but I have a couple medical procedures coming up that may prevent me from writing. If that does happen, I’ll be sure to update you. With that, I hope you enjoy the story. Please feel free to share your opinions and reactions!

With boundless love and blessings,

Lady Morgana Brighid, HP MCCA

 

Fairy Tale

There is a Sickness, and it is poisoning a country.  It is killing a People in massive numbers.  It is taking children from their mothers’ hands, taking fathers and breaking them, turning them into beasts of labor.  It is slaughtering human beings, and there is little consequence because it doesn’t believe they are human beings. 

 

They scream and fight. “We bleed, we cry.  We breathe!” 

And It thinks, “So? Cows bleed and cry and breathe.  We still make our boots with their asses.” 

The people don’t give up, yelling, “We’re human!  We laugh, we love, we have souls.”

 The Sickness laughs and says, “How can that be?  You don’t look like me.  I built this world standing on your back.  You have soles? You must be shoes.” 

The People wail, “You’re wrong! We’re your mothers, your grandfathers.  We have always been and you were born of our breasts.  We are the ancestors of your ancestors.” 

 

The Sickness grins. Its face morphs.

 

 Its voice draws blood to the ears of the People as it responds, “No.  You are the ancestors of those I have infected.  I am something separate, born of greed and jealousy and lost souls.  Your sick children are blind.  They will never remember you.  As long as I live within them, you’ll be their enemy.  They’ll beat you, imprison you, enslave you.  They’ll kill you and soon you will become infected.  They’ll rape you, dear mothers.  They’ll ridicule and crush you, grandfathers.  They’ll build a world around destroying and using you.  And the best part of all is that they think they’re doing ‘the right thing!’ But they don’t know that each wound they inflict upon you becomes their own.  They can’t feel it, I have numbed them.  Each wound they give you, weakens you, so that I can begin to infect you, too.  And now, they have created a system that all but guarantees your destruction.  Go ahead and fight back.  Your anger and pain will open you more to me.  Give in, for there is no cure.”

 

The People wept. 

 

Mothers stand in the blood of their sons.  Infected children murder other children.  The People fall to their knees and weep.  They weep for the dead and for the infected killers, for the broken and for the lost.  The people weep and their weeping becomes a hum, the hum a melody, and the melody a song.  The song rises louder, filled with the pain of a million souls.  The noise thunders.  The infected hit harder, cut deeper, trying to quiet it.  But the People will not be silenced, and finally the Other hears their suffering.

 

One-by-one, the Other calls to the People, quietly at first, whispering its way through the Sickness.  The People begin to open their eyes to gaze upon this newcomer.  Their eyes burn as the Other shines dimly above them, and the souls of the People are set alight. 

 

Only those willing to burn can hear the Other speak.  “I have heard your song, I have seen what the Sickness is doing.”

 The People lamented, “There is no cure. We are doomed.  We are doomed!” 

 

The Other reaches forward and touches the People.  It bandages their wounds, feeds their moaning stomachs, and gathers their tears. 

 

It asks, “Have you forgotten me, like your infected children have forgotten you?” 

The People shake their heads, “The Sickness is strong.  We’ve almost forgotten ourselves.” 

The Other laughs, a warm, musical sound.  Again and again It reaches forward, touching the People, many already infected.  Each person touched begins to see a bit more clearly, begins to feel like they are waking up.  Their souls burn hotter, and the more they awake, the brighter the Other glows. 

Again, it speaks, kissing the brow of the People.  “Look up and remember me, for in my memory you’ll find yourselves.  Remember, before the Sickness, I was with you.  Remember, before the changes, you and the infected were one People.  You have forgotten, Children of Africa, that you are more than mothers and fathers, more than slaves and victims.  You are Kings and Queens.  You are the First People and you will be the last.  You possess ancient knowledge and infinite power.  Know, then, that you are noble.  Know that you are eternal.  Rise, Pharaohs, daughters of Nefertiti, sons of Isis.  Rise and remember! Open your hearts to me and you will find your cure.”

 

Upon this proclamation, the People begin to leat in joy.  Their weeping becomes laughter as the Other floods their senses.  Elated, the People dance and stomp!  Their dancing shakes the earth and, in so doing, disturbs the Sickness.  The People are no longer at the mercy of the Infected, but instead, are spreading their new-found vision.  Over and over, Infected fall to their knees as the Other’s light spreads throughout their being.  They rise, once again as part of the People, cured. 

 

The Sickness howls, furious and afraid.  It sets fire to homes and sends its darkest agents to corrupt the newly cured, but its efforts are in vain. 

 

The strength of the People is undeniable.

 

 The Sickness shutters at the uproarious din, weakened by its power.  The light of the Other spreads to every corner, illuminating every soul.  The Sickness begins to fade, no longer able to feed on the People.  More and more Infected are cured, and the People stand tall. 

 

They remember themselves, “We are mighty!  We are free!”

 

 A few Infected can never be cured, but they have no control.  The world is a star, burning with the light of the People, and it is exquisite!

 

The Sickness that had ruled for centuries, dwelling in the hearts of men, is finally obliterated.  Eradicated from the collective conscious, the world becomes a Utopia.  The People are once again One People, the children grow to be elderly, and mothers rejoice.  No longer is the Other an ancient memory, it is within the People.  And there it will remain, forever.

 

The end.   ©

 

Originally posted here: https://voixdewilder.wordpress.com/2015/07/