Welcome to my blog!

Merry Meet & Thank you for visiting!
This blog is all about all the things that make me up. I am a Mother, I am a Pagan Witch, I am a Wife, I am a homemaker, I am a student, I am Spiritual, I am a Teacher, I am Liberal Hippie, I am a Voter, and I am extremely opinionated! Plan to see it all! If you don't like what you see, feel free to leave! However, chances are, if you stick around, you'll find more to love than hate!

Blessings!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Occupy...

Photo by Michael Tracey
of VisionCache Photography
Unless you live under a rock, you know what's going on with the Occupy movement. For the most part, I believe this movement to "mean well" but I'm not so sure how much real long term change it's going to make. I've seen many of the "movements" wrapped up within this one to in fact support that "1%" rather than create any actual change. But that doesn't mean I don't both understand and support what they are TRYING to do. The point is to make changes to the world, which in many ways is why I do what I do every day. It's the reason I donate clothing, it's the reason I am learning to make food from scratch, it's the reason we no longer use chemically filled cleaners in our home, and it's the reason we research medications and vaccinations before we agree to have/use them. Many of the things that I do in my life I do because I feel there is change to be made, and for those of you who follow me on Facebook, you see many of the causes I believe in and support. Slavery, Vaccinations, Organic Foods, Nutrition, Women's Rights, Marriage Equality, Children's Rights, Religious Equality & Tolerance and many others... It may seem as if I spread my interests thin, but I have found that for the most part, every cause I feel strongly about are in fact small splinters of a much larger movement for Equality and Human Rights... It's MY right, and it's YOUR right to live the life you choose in a healthy and accepted manner, without having to be considered "alternative" or "expendable."

So how did we get to this point though? When did we become a country by and for the 1% instead of by and for "The People?" Well, truth be told in many ways we've always been by and for those in power. In the early days it was the land owners rather than the servants, today it's the corporations and political backers rather than you and I. Not to say there hasn't been great changes made for the better, there has. We see this in the "Rights" movements in the 1960's and 70's which fought for equality for racial, religious and gender equality... And we've come even further through the 80's and 90's in areas of sexuality being more widely accepted, although we still have some ways to go on that front...

However, for the most part, people have gone about their lives without using their time to focus on making changes. And THAT is how we got where we are. American's as a whole have happily ate up propaganda and accepted shady practices as "the way things are." Why? For the most part because past generations didn't have the options we do today, and we learn our habits from our parents & grandparents. So since our parents didn't take the time to research where or how their furniture was made, we tend not to think about it.

Is it laziness? or Is it simply a lack knowledge about what we SHOULD be doing?  Personally, I think it's a little of both. For the most part people don't think about doing their own research, we're told from the time we're children to believe "experts" and follow their lead. And for many people this includes following the lead of politicians, large organizations and corporations assuming that they have the best interest of others at heart when they act. This is the very definition of "lack of knowledge." But there is also a layer of "I can't be bothered" in there too. How many times have you went to the store and simply tossed things in the buggy without first flipping the box to see where it's made or what ingredients are really in it? For lack of a better term, that's laziness at work, and we are ALL guilty of it at least minimally...

This all begs the question though "How DO we make changes?" Well, you have the option to grab a sign and go stand in the cold and the rain on wall street. OR you have the option to take just 10 mins a day and make HUGE changes from the comfort of your home... I don't know about you, but I'm not all about pepper spray to the face, so I'm going to choose to make the changes from home... But how exactly do we make those changes from home?

 Pick your battles - 
    The first step in making changes, is deciding which issues you are interested in changing. As far as I am concerned there is no reason to limit yourself either! If you see an issue that you disagree with, act to change it... Support groups who are working to make those changes and do the research to back up or support your beliefs concerning this issue.

 Pick up a Pen - 
     Making your beliefs known is as easy as writing a letter! Take 5 minutes a day to write letters or type out emails to your local and national politicians, corporate leaders and small business owners alike, and organizations which both work for and against your causes. Let them know, kindly, where you stand and what you plan to do to make changes in your life to support your beliefs.

If, for example, you're writing McDonalds to express your support of their removal of business from a company which has been shown to have unethical animal practices, include the fact that you are not only supporting them for their choice, but that you are doing your best to STOP supporting companies who have not pulled away from that company. I would also suggest writing said company and express your feelings to them as well and make it known that you understand that by supporting companies who support them that you are supporting their practices, and that you are taking steps to ensure you stop supporting the companies who do continue to purchase from them. What does this do? It allows McDonnald's to know where their customers (or people in general) stand on such issues, which will encourage them to make similar changes in other areas. But it also lets makes it know to the other company that animal abuse is NOT okay, and that they can only expect to see more loss of income as long as such practices are followed because if the companies who use them loose business, so do they...

Now, you may feel as if a single letter isn't going to make change, and therefore it's not worth taking your time to write. To which I say, then make it 100 letters, or 1000 or even a MILLION! Send a copy of your letter to organizations who support your beliefs with a note attached that states "This is the letter I have sent to _______. I am providing it to you in an effort to have others do the same. Together our voices can be heard!" Many of these organizations are willing to include such "template letters" in their emails or mailings and will encourage other members/readers/followers to follow suit. If this group has a Facebook Page or Forum on their website, take the time to make your letter, as well as the address or email of those you sent it to, public so that other members/readers/followers may do the same. It only takes a few extra moments of your time, but it means that your one voice, may be heard a thousand times over... THIS is how change is made!

 Hit them where it hurts!-
     Please take the image of walking up to a politician and decking him the face out of your mind! Although that may be rather enjoyable, it's not quite what I'm talking about! I'm talking of their bank accounts of course. Politicians, Shady Organizations and Corporations are only as powerful as their income... So make an effort to purchase products from companies from companies and support charities who have ethics that work in accordance with your beliefs. Want to see more jobs? Put down the box that says "Made in China" and find one that says "Made in America." Does it take more work? Yep. But is it doable? 100%  Want to see slavery abolished? Find out which companies pay a fair wage to ALL their employees and purchase from them! Want to see healthier, more natural and less chemically toxic products on shelves? Find out which products are healthy and purchase those... If your local stores don't sell them, ask them to (again, those letters come in handy here).

It may be small changes, something as basic as switching to cloth diapers, but it makes a HUGE impact! Think about the numbers - One pack of disposable diapers lasts about a week, and on average will cost consumers between $10 and $15. So how much money are YOU (all by yourself) not giving the disposable diaper companies and stores who sell them simply by switching to cloth? A MINIMUM of $520 a year! If 10 or 100  families switch, it equals THOUSANDS of dollars lost by these companies and stores. Which will FORCE them to come up with alternative methods of income, and if they are following the trend, it means more cloth or cloth supporting products.  And in the case of something like diapers, it also reduces waste, green house emissions and chemicals which come in contact with both the environment and your child.

But what about something we all use? Diapers only apply to those with small children, so what about Toothpaste? Deodorant? Shampoo?  The same rules apply. Find products and companies that support the ethical beliefs you hold. Whether that be low pollution, low chemicals, fair wage, fair trade, no animal testing or whatever else the companies ARE out there! Then, simply purchase those products and not others... In most cases it is NOT more expensive to purchase but every dollar you spend on products and with companies who share your ethical beliefs, the more money you're taking away from those who don't. Again, it's about numbers... If you buy toothpaste twice a month, that's $8 - $10 a month or $96 - $120 a year going towards making a change for the better... Add on to there the food you eat, where you buy clothing, what electronics and appliances you buy, what car you buy and of course, don't forget books and your religious supplies... Over all it adds up to THOUSANDS of dollars out of the pockets of those who practice negative business practices or produce products which are less than worthy of a good society.

It also sends messages to the politicians and organizations who depend on the support of corporations and CEOs to give them their power... Oil companies can't pay politicians to make laws in their favor if we are buying less gas because we have electric cars... Pharmaceutical corporations can't "donate" to medical schools, organizations, political agendas or offer "kick backs" to doctors or hospitals if we stop using toxic medications in favor of natural remedies. And the list goes on and on...

Share! -
     Your mother told you to share! You need to listen! When you find products that are "worthy" buy two. Share them with your friends, family and co-workers. When you have items that you no longer need, pass them on! And most of all when you have knowledge that can help someone else, share it! Something as basic as sharing a link to a new or different charity can change someone's life, so don't hesitate to do it. When the holidays are coming, remember not to compromise your ethics when buying gifts, and include a note with "better" products introducing them to the person who is getting them.

     For example, when I switched over to a Diva Cup, I didn't just purchase one for me and leave it at that. I told my mother, my grandmother, my sister, my aunt and my friends - hell, I even blogged about it! Did I change the world? In a way I did. I changed how AT LEAST 3 women deal with their monthly visitor and I sent a message to disposable product companies as well as my local shops that my money is our money is used to purchase healthier products. Now my local grocer is considering carrying both cloth pad options as well as cup options... And it was as simple as finding a product I loved and believe in, sharing with those around me and letting my local shops know where my money was going... It may be a small change, but no one has ever won a war with one shot...

Shop SMALL-
     Small businesses are owned by small people just like you and me. Shopping through large corporate centers only supports the issue, not the solution. Keep your neighbors, friends and family members in jobs by supporting local small businesses every day. Even if all you do is stop in once a week for a coffee at your local corner shop, you're making a difference to someone! You're keeping a business running, keeping people in work, keeping a paycheck going out and keeping your money in your town - which makes everyone's lives better!

Raise your children with values - 
     As I talked about in the beginning, most of our habits concerning politics, ethics, corporations and "experts" comes from our parents. So the same principal can be used when it comes to raising our children. If we live in a way that is dedicated to being the healthiest most positive lifestyle we can have, a life which is creating change for the better, and in a way that does not allow injustices to slip by us in favor of ease, our children will see and learn that. Their lives, their world will be healthier, more just and overall better not only because of the changes that WE made, but because of the changes which they will make. If life must be a cycle, make sure you're giving it a positive push toward the future!


So what is the point in all this? Well, the point, boiled down to it's simplest form, is that you can make a difference just by living your life! There is no NEED for signs, shouting and fighting... Instead, make your stand known by what you do every day! This country - and the world - would be so much better if everyone just lived their lives with the understanding that everything we do - every action, purchase, and product - is a piece of a much bigger puzzle so it's important to stand up, while you do what you do!

**Originally Published on One Witch's Wonderland Blog (11/22/11) which has since closed.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Tool Box: The Wand

I think one tool you'll find in just about every witch is going to have is a wand. It tends to be the "golden standard" if for no other reason than we all grow up with this image of a witch and her wand! But why do we use wands? What are they really for? What do they do? Do some work better than others? With all the mis-information and conjecture out there it's easy to understand why the answers to these questions aren't "basic" knowledge. But, I am going to clear all that up!

Like many other tools the wand has quite a long history. In fact although it's not widely known, Egyptian Pharaoh's very often carried a wand. Today we see images of them with a scepter, and "crook", but this would not have been their every day wear so to speak. The Pharaohs "Gods" to their people, so a wand was a given through day to day life.

The Greek God Hermes was also pictured with a wand, and today his wand is used as our common day symbol for "healthcare" with it's winged head and two intertwining snakes.

Wands are also pictured in myths from Norse, Celtic, Asian and even Arthurian decent which date back to pre-history. Today it's rare we see a modern day movie witch without a wand in her hand. Even Harry Potter and his friends have their own wands as well as a huge workup around finding and using just the right one... Wands have become a huge part of the "witches stigma" and the mental picture we all have of what a witch "should" look like.

Now, you'll never hear me say that a witch should or shouldn't have this or that... But there isn't just fiction behind all these appearances of a wand through history or in today's world. So while it's not a NEED for a witch to have or use a wand, it does tend to be a great benefit and generally it's a classic and widely used tool that you'll find in most witches tool kits.

So, what is a wand? Well, you'll find wands made of any number of materials. Some are wood, others stone, others metal and still others are glass or crystal. But no matter what the material all wands have the same basic use. A wand is an extension of YOU. They are used to guide, focus and project YOUR ENERGY in to your intended goal.

Because the wand is a phallic symbol it is also used to represent the God or male aspects of the Deity and his energy, power and virility.  You'll also find that through most traditions the wand will represent the element of Air, although through a few it represents fire. The wand is used to consecrate a sacred space, or to invoke a deity.

So, where do you find your own wand and how do you choose between all your options?

Well, it may seem like there are an endless amount of options here - and there really are. But once you start your search you'll find that it's easy to narrow down the search quickly. First, the question should be what material are YOU most comfortable with? What makes you feel "extended?" Your wand should feel like an extension of your body and your energy, so if you reach for it and feel no like it's just another object, it's not an extension of you. So think about yourself and your connections, what things make you feel connected to the world around you? Is it a certain tree? Maybe a stone or gem?

If you would prefer purchase your wand you may not have the chance to handle it before you buy, especially if you buy online or from a catalog. So your best bet here is to take a walk through nature or even through a home store. Lay your hands on different woods, metals and stones. Where do you feel the most energy flow? Those are the best options for you when picking a wand.

If you would prefer to make your own wand you will have all the time to find just the perfect materials. Again, take some time to find the perfect fallen branch or the perfect piece of pipe to reuse... Or maybe the perfect stone. Whatever it is it should be about 12 to 18 inches in length and feel comfortable in your hands. Most home made wands are wood, but again, you always have options and if you are more comfortable with other materials, don't be afraid to use them. And you always have the option to add stones, ribbons, carvings, or any thing else you need to your wand - MAKE IT YOURS!

The last note I feel it's important to note is that your wand does not have any power in and of itself. It's simply an extension of YOU, I can't stress that enough. YOU have the power, you have the energy... The wand is just a way to help YOUR MIND focus that energy and use it...  You can't pick up a wand and become Glenda, because you are already everything you need. Believe in yourself and know that with or without a wand, you have everything you need!

Homemade Spice Mix Recipes

One of the biggest challenges for me in switching over from pre-packaged to homemade is mastering all the seasonings! This post is just awesome! She has 17 different seasoning mixes that you can mix pre-mix and keep on hand to help save yourself the same time and stress that it's really no different from using the stour bought stuff...


Monday, February 25, 2013

Witch by Lady Isodora



“Witch” on MP3
words and music by Lady Isadora
©1990, 2006

“Why do you call yourself a Witch?
Why do you dress yourself in black?
Why don’t you use some other word
And get the devil off your back?”
I call myself a Witch because
A Witch is what I am
And like a Jew in Nazi Germany
I don’t define my name
To suit the Master Plan
The Propaganda Man
Never again! Never again!
“Why do you call yourself a Witch?
You know we just don’t understand
People will think you’re sinister
You know they’ll say your soul is damned!”
I call myself a Witch because
I don’t believe the lie
That the Creator is a macho man
Who wants to tell me what to do
Until I die
For pie in the sky
That’s such a lie! That’s such a lie!
I don’t believe in Satan
He’s a poor excuse for Pan
I’m a child of Holy Mother Earth
And I’m gonna stand up to
The Propaganda Man
In every way I can
“Why do you call yourself a Witch?
Such a pretentious fantasy!
Magic is just a childhood dream
Come on and face reality!
I call myself a Witch because
I’m not afraid to tell
That the magic is in Life itself
Not just in some ancient book
Or secret spell
And I know damn well
That there’s no Hell
Except the Goddess of that name
No, the devil doesn’t turn me on,
He’s too much of a chauvinist pig
No self-respecting feminist
Would be caught dead around
A masculine ego that big
“Why do you call yourself a Witch
And talk of Witchcraft openly?
Wicca’s a nice disguise to use*
When you’re in mixed company”
I call myself a Witch because
There’s power in the word
There’s power in the truth about
What we really feel
And who we really are
Live by the Star
And you’ll go far
Yes, you’ll go far
“Why do you call yourself a Witch?”
Because a Witch is what I am!
“Why do you call yourself a Witch?”
Because a Witch is what I am!

from The Queen of Earth & Sky
by Lady Isadora
©1990, 2006
Dance of Life Productions (ASCAP)


*As any good dictionary of  Old English (Anglo  - Saxon) will show, the original word wasn’t “Wicca”  (male Witch), but  “Wiccecraeft.” Read Isadora’s essay “You Say ‘Wicca’ and I   Say ‘Witchcraft!’”, and check out her Society for the   Prevention of Witchcraft Being Called “Wicca”™.

This song is by far one of the greatest songs I have ever heard! For me it's a daily listen!! It's honestly and truth mixed with pride and strength which for me, is the greatest combination! I have included the link for the MP3 download for those of you who want it. Personally I don't think I could go through a day without this song... It's very much the soundtrack of my life!

Blessed Be!

Buy this, and other Lady Isadora CD's & help support this blog!

The Eight Largest Faith Groups in the US

Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) has recently published a list of the "Eight Largest Faith Groups." I have no doubt this is in response to the pressure from minority religions to be recognized more and more on campus.  I have friends who attended school at IUP, but don't honestly know about the religious communities or pressures on campus, myself. And while I know their numbers to be incorrect, the fact that yet another college is taking steps to push religious equality and tolerance on campus is by no means a small blessing.

**I do find it interesting that they identified a major symbol for each faith listed EXCEPT for Wicca, no doubt in an effort to avoid depicting an pentacle.

Get their full list:

Support A Pagan

I've decided to start an ongoing project entitled "Support A Pagan."  Each post under this heading will feature ONE "Pagan" individual, business or cause. Some I'm sure you have heard of, others, maybe not. I will say though that I am using the term "Pagan" very loosely and will be including individuals which may be considered "non-Pagan" by those who prefer to put strict limits on the term, those who may be Hindu, Buddhist, or even Christo-Pagan. But I'm not picky and prefer to include everyone, so if you're super picky about what you think IS or ISN'T Pagan, make sure that you read the fine print...

I will be covering "famous" as well as "not so famous" Pagans with these entries as well as new or unheard of businesses and sites. My purpose here is NOT to decide which people or groups deserve your patronage, but to bring to your attention those Pagans which could use your support of their craft/cause.

Homemade Decongestant

For as much as we all want to stay away from them, from time ti time, it's necessary to reach for the decongestant. So if you're going to use it, why know reach for a version that isn't full of poisons?

Learn how to make your own here:

Friday, February 22, 2013

How to Rice Cauliflower

I'm not Paleo, I love my rice, but this is a great idea for getting more veggie in to your diet - or in to your kids!  I already use cauliflower to make all my cheese sauces and mashed potatoes, but I never thought to do this!



Without a doubt, you MUST have a good blender! So I will definitely need a new one - cause my motor blew.

Garden Planting Guide: When to Plant Seeds & Seedlings

This is another awesome article from Mother Earth Living - seriously, if you don't get this magazine, you should!  There are a lot of questions about what to plant, when to plant and where to plant when it comes to gardening.  This article will help to walk to you through everything you need to know before you start your seeds or get seedlings started...


Making Real Cream Cheese

This is something I've been looking for for quite some time. I LOVE Cream Cheese, but I worry about what doesn't make it to the label. So, while the idea of making my own cheese kinda scares me, I really want to give it a shot!



Pagan Blog Project: Week 8: Diversity & Differences

Over the past weekend I took some time and wrote up the blog I had intended to publish today entitled "Daughter." I will post it at a later time for those who are watching for it. But after a recent discussion on my Facebook page, I feel it necessary to change my focus this week.

The diversity of the Pagan community is, for me, one of the best parts!  I love that as an Eclectic I can follow my own path and still be a part of a supportive larger group. In no other faith do you get the kind of diversity that you do here! In every other religious group you are either a part of a larger group, or you aren't. But for Pagans, we really get the best of both worlds! Not only are we a part of a group where we can feel supported and included, but we can also forge out own path and follow our hearts!  This is a huge blessing - but it may have a downside...  Two, in fact.

The first "downside" to all this diversity is that it's difficult to educate those outside of the Pagan community to what "Pagan" really is. There are so many beliefs, traditions, faiths and paths encompassed by the Pagan title that it's really impossible to clearly explain everything and include everyone. Even showing someone the "basics" really leaves out a lot of people who don't follow those basics. For example, I would say that most Pagans have Nature Based Beliefs of one kind or another... But there are a great many in the community that that simply doesn't fit for. So that makes things difficult.

The second, and more unfortunate "downside" is that there are those within the community that wish to place strict labels and limits on what is or isn't "Pagan" rather than allowing everyone to be included when and if they choose to be.


For me, the diversity is a clear asset. I'm what is considered "Eclectic." I do not follow a preset path or organized religious group. Instead, I share most of my beliefs and practices with a number of different traditions and religions. I would say the majority of my traditions & practices come from various Wiccan traditions, but I also share some beliefs with Hinduism, Buddhism, Satanism, Different Native American Traditions, and even Abrahamic paths. I am a firm believer that all religious traditions or philosophies are simply different branches on the much larger "Spirituality Family Tree."

So the idea of being a part of a group that doesn't require me to believe one way or another is a positive thing for me. It allows me to do my own research, search my own heart & soul and come up with my own beliefs and ideas. And at the same time, it allows me to have others to share my ideas and beliefs with or to go to for support or simply to come together with when it's time to celebrate.  Unfortunately for me, and for others out there who love the eclectic group of crazies we happily belong to, not everyone is so gleeful to be inclusive when it comes to our community!

Recently I posted the following poster on my facebook page. And the conversation which followed was, at best, saddening!

Personally, I LOVED this poster, which was why I shared it. I thought is made a great statement - two of them in fact. Unfortunately the comments that followed it ended in me blocking one woman from my page and a long argument between a few different members.

Some of the comments I feel the need to address here, and I would welcome any thoughts from readers below in the "comments" area.  **some of these are direct copies, others are para-phrased.
  • What the heck is techno-paganism? 
  • Why would you worship pop-culture and why would that be pagan? 
  • And worshiping a CITY?
  • The very definition of pagan means that you believe that the Divine spirit is in all of nature, so that is a kind of nature worship, is it not?
  • Atheists can not be Pagan.
  • Satanism is NOT Pagan. It's Christian and has no historical basis for being Pagan
  • CHURCH is not a word we use in NeoPaganism. (referring to the Church of Satan)
  • Christ Worshiping? Not Pagan!
To be honest, I could keep listing... The comments were in fact quite inflammatory at some points. I find it incredibly disheartening that anyone in the Pagan community would be derogatory towards anyone elses path, Paganism is about fulfilling YOUR Path, not about forcing yourself - or others - to fit the mold that someone else has laid down. 

I am sure that some of these questions - especially the first few - were made simply out of ignorance. So I want to provide a few descriptions for those who may not know.
  •  A Techno-Pagan is an individual who does the bulk of their study and practice through technological means. This could include online circles or study groups, a Disc or Blog of Shadows, or a focus on the spiritual aspects of technology.
  • "Pop-Culture" Worship can refer to a few different practices, but in my understanding it's someone who uses mythology originating from popular media or culture. (ex: Lord of the Rings or Star Trek Mythology) Personally, I feel most people understand that the myths are NOT factual occurrences for the most part, but are meant to be used as teaching tools, so where the myths originate, be it ancient history or modern media, really doesn't matter.
  • City Worship is not unusual. In fact, Ancient Athenians are known for their city worship. Yes, Athenians were worshiping Athena, and not the city itself, but she was the spirit of the city. Today, city spirits or Gods still exist and are still actively worshiped by some modern Pagans. (Read "The Urban Primitive:  Paganism in a Concrete Jungle") 
  • The term Pagan, like the term Christian, holds many definitions depending on the individual being addressed. In point of fact, the belief that all of Nature holds divine energy is Pantheism or Animism, NOT Paganism. While SOME Pagans do hold this belief, many do not. (Refer to the "What is Pagan" post for a more in depth description of Paganism)
  • The term Church is NOT owned by any religion! And there are more than a few VERY CLEARLY Pagan organizations who have taken the title of Church rather than Coven or Organization. Some examples would be The Church & School of Wicca (founded by the Frosts), The New Wiccan Church, and The Pagan Alliance Church.
Okay, now, that's where my short answers end. From here on I think it's important to give some more detailed answers. And some of these are actually planned to go on to be full blown blogs in themselves, but I still think they are important to address well here. 

First of all, as addressed above, Pagans are not limited to any specific belief system and this includes their beliefs surrounding Theism. The fact is, a theistic view is not required to be Pagan. I would say it's safe to say that the majority of Pagans are, in some form, theistic, they hold a belief in God, Goddess, both or many. But there are plenty of modern Pagans who fall in to the category of Atheist. I would say it's very important to keep in mind that the definition of Atheist is simply someone who does not hold a belief in a God or Goddess. There are in fact many Atheists who believe in spiritual energy, magick, and even spirit or metaphysical beings such as fae. One "Atheist Pagan" Woman I know says that while she follows the Celtic/Wiccan Calendar and recognizes the feminine and masculine aspects of nature she does not believe in any literal Gods or Goddesses and she does not work with them in her practice. She sees the Gods & Goddesses as characters of cultural mythologies which were created in order to explain phenomenon that they did not understand or to teach lessons about morals or history rather than actual entities. This makes her BOTH a practicing Pagan (she is mostly Wiccan) and an Atheist. 

Secondly, I want to discuss the idea that Satanists can are not Pagan. I've heard this one more than a few times in the past. The fact is I've known more than a few Satanists in my life time (I dated two) and in each case they were very much Pagan.  I believe the confusion comes in when people wrongly assume that Satanism and Devil Worship are the same thing. In point of fact, there are more than a few forms of Satanism, but the largest and most common branch is LeVayan Satanism (Church of Satan), which is NOT a religion by definition, but a philosophy or ideology. LeVayan Satanism founded in 1966 by Anton Szandor LaVey. Its teachings are based on individualism, self-indulgence, and "eye for an eye" morality. LaVeyan Satanists are atheists who regard Satan as a symbol of man's inherent nature.  There are those Pagans who, like my Atheist Pagan friend (above) who follow the Celtic Calender, believe in spiritual energy and entities and for all purposes are practicing Pagans and/or Witches, but who follow the philosophy put forth by the Church of Satan. Is it a different approach than most? Yes. But I don't see how that makes it less valid. I like to compare Satanism to Buddhism, in the fact that both are philosophies rather than religions and can be combined with religions to form a "bigger picture" belief system for some who find religion alone lacking. 

It is important to note here that there is a such thing as Theistic Satanism or Devil Worship, and that this is NOT generally considered to be Paganism. Instead, it's a "loose" form of Christianity. The idea here is that in order for someone to believe in the Devil, one must first be Abrahamic in nature, because the Devil only exists within the Abrahamic umbrella. But since the equation of Satan and the Devil ONLY exists within Christianity (for Jews Satan & the Devil were two different entities) Satanism is a branch of that faith rather than Judaism or Islam.  Theistic Satanism actually identifies Satan/the Devil as a Deity worthy of Worship. Beliefs and practices of these individuals and their beliefs usually vary from person to person - or coven to coven in those rare cases where there is a group. There is no recognized Theistic Satanism Group or Leaders, and most are solitary believers. There are numerous books available which contain mythology, rituals and practices meant to honor and worship the Devil and/or deny the divinity of YHWH and/or Jesus. In most cases these are bastardized or otherwise altered versions of Gnostic Myths, Middle Ages Apocryphal Texts and/or Catholic or Occultist Ritual. However, it's important to remember that there ARE those individuals who combine Christian and Pagan beliefs and practices (ex: Christo-Pagans) so I am sure that there COULD BE those who combine Theistic Satanism & Paganism as well. Because of this I say Theistic Satanists are GENERALLY not Pagan, but I am sure there are a few who cross boundaries. It's important to remember though that when it comes to Satanism, most are LeVayan or similar and NOT Devil Worshipers, and that out of those few who are, even less would consider themselves Pagan in any case.

And Finally, like I mentioned above, there are plenty of Christo-Pagans or Christo-Wiccans out there who combine Christianity and Paganism quite fine.  I talked a couple of weeks ago how I view Christianity as just another branch of the Religion Family Tree, so I'm not going to go in to great detail here. But if you're wondering about Christo-Paganism or how it can exist, I would suggest you read my past blog posts - Can You Be Christian AND A Witch, Resources for Christo-Witches, and/or PBP Week 6: Christianity IS Pagan.  Personally, I'm not Christo- Anything. But I don't see YHWH or Jesus as any "less" godly than any other Antient God or Demi-God. I believe in Zeus and Hercules and Osiris and Horus, so why not YHWH and Jesus? Unlike Christians however, that is how I view them, as existing beside other equally important Gods, Goddesses & DemiGods. So I suppose this is why I don't see Christo-Pagan paths as all that strange. 

Being Pagan isn't about following, it's about finding. It's about discovering our own truth and doing what we understand to be right. For some, that means following a strict set of Wiccan or Cultural rules or traditions, for others, that means going completely off script. For someone like me, that means a bit of both. Regardless of what someone practices, if THEY consider themselves to be Pagan, I don't know - or understand - why anyone else would want to take that from them. The beauty of Paganism is that we are all different, yet we are all in it together. 

The Pagan Pride Day Logo,
Features Numerous Symbols
In fact, if you look at the "Pagan Pride Day" logo, you'll not see a single symbol but many representing all the many forms of Paganism. Goddess Worship, Wicca, Druidry, and Heathenry are the most popular, but they certainly aren't the only forms. And, for that matter, side by side, even these most common versions have some great differences. Goddess Worship for example tends to focus on Women's issues and the Femininity in all life forms. While Wiccan focuses on both the Goddess AND the cycles of nature. Druidry is reconstructed from the old Celtic faith, and Heathenry is reconstructed from old Norse traditions. There are some BIG differences, but there are also some big similarities. 

More and more I'm noticing a trend to nit-pick other Pagans, which I find upsetting. Yes, these faiths all have differences, and yes, in some ways these differences do set one separate from the others. But the point that I want to make here, is that just because YOU don't agree with a belief, tradition, practice, philosophy or personal title does NOT give you the right to decide someone is or isn't Pagan. The diversity and differences we encounter within the Pagan Community SHOULD BE an asset to us, but instead I'm seeing more and more arguing, intolerance and anger occurring between members of the community. I've personally been told that I'm "Not a "real" witch" because I am not Wiccan by one person and that I'm "rather uneducated about what Paganism is" because I willingly accept Atheists and Satanists in to the fold. But here's the thing, I don't allow anyone else to choose how I believe, or how I label myself, so I don't feel it's my duty to define or label others either. I prefer instead to support and accept everyone! 

We are lucky enough at this point to be growing in numbers and recognition. But as recent events (Fox News Comments) have shown us, we are still not receiving the equal treatment that we've all been fighting for for so long. Many people still have no real understanding of what it means to be Pagan. Which to me, means that we should be working TOGETHER to create a strong and united front. We should be presenting as a group, not as individuals. For us to get that equality and recognition for those on the OUTSIDE of our community, we first need to have it come from within. That means understanding one another, being tolerant to the differences, and being accepting of things we may not totally agree with as kindly and lovingly as we can. We should be supporting one another, and presenting a community full of love and light to the world, instead of attempting to force or push out ideals, beliefs or understandings on others simply because it's what we believe. 

Only one we become tolerant and accepting of one another will those on the outside give us the same level of tolerance & acceptance. Reach out to one another. If you don't understand someone's path, ask about it. Don't EVER assume that your path is right for someone else and don't EVER feel someone else is wrong just because they are different. Elitism creates separation, and ruins relationships. We, as a community need to rise above all the negativity surrounding our differences and fully, happily & lovingly embrace the diversity which the Pagan Community provides us. 


Thursday, February 21, 2013

What to Keep in Your Car in Case of an Accident

As I said yesterday, I wrecked my car. And the one thing I learned, was that I was rather ill-prepared. So now that I've had some time to relax and chill out, I've really started to consider what I SHOULD have had in the car and/or ready...

First of all, I never got around to getting my Winter Emergency Kit put in the car.  So that was boo-boo number one. In my case, the car was drivable and I was only stuck at the scene momentarily. But had my car not been drivable, things like a blanket for my daughter would have made a HUGE difference, especially since it was only 18*F today. As would some extra snacks and something for her to do.

But there were also some things I wish I had had that weren't even listed in the "Emergency Kit" that I will be making a point to put in the car!  First, I will be purchasing one of those Disposable Cameras! I don't have a cell phone, and I didn't happen to have my digital camera on hand, so having a camera that stays with the car can make or break your case when it comes to legal matters! Thankfully this accident was pretty straight forward, but I still took pictures of the damage. It would be nice though to have pictures of his damage as well!

Additionally, I would have liked to have my information organized a little better. My husband had kinda shoved everything together in the glovebox, but I had to go back and forth to get everything I needed, plus, I couldn't find a working pen. So I've decided to break down and get one of those "glove box organizers."  That will make it much easier to keep everything straight. 

But more than all that, the two things I wish I would have had most will come in handy regardless of how serious your accident is and can help you skip some of the stress! And these things are now in my car.  First, I printed out a large clear page with of all our important car related numbers - Driver's License Numbers, Insurance Company Phone Number and Policy Number, Emergency Information (contact numbers, blood types & health insurance information) in case of serious injury, Road Side Assistance Phone Number, Local Tow Services, etc.  And second, is something the gentleman I was in the accident with had - a pre-typed "information exchange card." It had spaces for my name, phone number, address, insurance information, where the accident was, DL#, Witness names & numbers and police information (in case they are called).  Thankfully this gentleman had two, so he filled one out and gave it to me, and he gave me one to fill out too. His were tiny, not even as large as an index card, but mine are about "half page" sized, so that there is more room (both of us ran out when we were writing our phone numbers.)  All of these documents can be kept in the organizer, and will no doubt make it much easier to deal with!

Apple Crisp Cheesecake Recipe

Well, we all know I love food. My kids, love to eat, but don't love food so much. I know that sounds strange, but they're picky! So it's rare that I find something they are ALL interested in. But when it comes to Apples, everyone is happy!  And since I will use just about any excuse to eat Cheesecake, I am super excited about this one!
 Ingredients:
  • 1cup of softened butter
  • 1cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cup flour
  • 2-8 oz pkg. cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups sliced apples
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup oatmeal
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Of course I recommend using organic and local ingredients whenever available! Not only is it healthier, but it will taste SO much better!

 

The Witch's Toolbox: Book of Mirrors

Thanks to modern day cinema, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't know what a Book of Shadows is. However, when it comes to a Book of Mirrors, I've come across many long time Pagans who have never heard the term. Personally, I think this is simply because while a Book of Shadows includes more "public" information - history, rituals, traditions, spells and other things you may share with a coven, group or family - the Book of Mirrors is a very very personal thing.

So what is a Book of Mirrors? Well, very simply is a Magickal Journal. In olden days a mirror was often called "reflecting glass." THIS is the meaning we attach to this journal - Reflection. Unlike a Book of Shadows which has technical information, how to and maybe even advice for future generations, a Book of Mirrors is solely for the use of the writer. Although from time to time they are passed on as well.

The idea of a Dream Journal is nothing new to many people, and most Pagans make a point to include their personal magickal experiences either in their BOS or in a second volume. A Book of Mirrors is essentially that second volume! It's a book, almost always hand written, which is filled with Dreams, Visions, Meditations and even personal experiences with Divination, Ritual, Spells and the like.

For many, SOME of these pieces are kept within their personal BOS, and others are simply not kept. However, there is some importance with keeping these things both accessible and current. The most obvious reason for us to keep a record of these things is so we remember what happened, what we saw or where we went.

But why does this information matter? Well, for many Pagans, their connection to the world around them is something very important. They don't tend to draw a line between awake and asleep, which means that the realms of conscious and "unconscious" are more easily blurred for them. Many find reason and meaning in dreams which can only be discovered upon reflection. Almost all will tell you that experiences through Meditation are not only personal but meaningful.  It's also very helpful to keep a personal record of ones more magickal experiences.

So, what is the difference between a Book of Mirrors and an every day Journal? Simple, a Journal may be filled with what happened in your life. Who did you spend your day with and what did you do? Who said what? What did you have for dinner?? Your Book of Mirrors should be filled, not with the mundane, but with the magickal! If you encounter an especially magickal moment during your mundane daily life, there isn't any reason you can't include it, but the majority of your daily life wouldn't be worthy of including in a Magickal Journal...

The simple difference is that while the purpose of a mundane every day Journal is simply to remember, the purpose of a Book of Mirrors is to reflect! To those who keep a Book of Mirrors, it's a blessed part of their day to pick up that book and begin to write, to read over old passages and see how they affected today, and to use what they have written as a way to help them make the proper choices long term...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Damn it! Wrecked My Car!

UGH! So you may have noticed a lack of blog posts today. Well, there is a reason. Instead of being able to post all my blogs today, I've been dealing with insurance companies! This morning, I was in a small car accident. Thankfully, no one was hurt and the insurance company feels it was the other guy's fault, but it was still a pain in my ass. My car is going to need fixed - AGAIN! But thankfully I was fully legal at the time (just had the car inspected on Monday) so everything should go rather smoothly. Still I'm not so happy about it all happening in the first place.

Check out my damage:







Yeah, like I said, it's not that bad. But, it's still a pain. Anyways, I feel after all the stress, I've completely earned the rest of the day off... So I'm going to kick my feet up, drink some hot tea and relax for a while!

The Witch's Toolbox: Book of Shadows Part 2: Buying Premade

When I went through all the whats and whys about Book of Shadows that you CAN buy a pre-made or professionally made one if you chose to, rather than using a notebook or binder. As with any other major purchase this is something that you need to look in to prior to committing. There are some beautiful options out there, some of which have blank pages, others have some pre-written information already in them.

My personal suggestion is to stay clear of those options with pre-written pages unless they are basic stuff like history or the Rede or something along those lines that would be the same regardless of whether you write them out or not.  Because a BOS is such a personal thing, I don't suggest buying one full of pages with someone else's Ritual or Spell work in it. If you want to do that, there are lots of published BOSs out there to choose from and they will cost you HUNDREDS less.

I would also suggest if you are going to purchase one of these beautifully made books to also invest in some good writers. Cheap Ball Point Pens are great when you keep your BOS in a cheap note book, but when you have spent a large amount of money on the book itself or when you have chosen to create your own heirloom BOS, a cheap pen just down plays the worth.

If you are someone who has chosen to type your BOS because your hand writing is not what it could be, make sure that the book you purchase has printable or removable pages so that you can use them with your printer - you may also consider a program that adds some nicer Script style fonts, that will add some beauty.

I would also suggest, if you are going to put this kind of money in to purchasing a Pre-Made Book of Shadows be very selective over what goes inside it...  I am a huge fan of the idea of an Heirloom BOS, as that's what I plan to make mine in to. I want something beautiful, full of information and something my decedents will be proud to have, keep and use.

I covered all the things that you want to keep in YOUR personal BOS, but what do you want to keep in your Heirloom version? Well, as with anything else, it's really up to you, however, what I like to do is keep all the personal experiences in a separate "journal" (also called a Book of Mirrors). I have talked to a few people who have a family book of shadows, and each of them have stated for them it's better to keep all the technical and historical stuff in the family book and then keep their own separate journal/BOM for the personal aspects. This allows them all to share their writings, spells, information, rituals and so on, while still allowing them to keep their own experiences their own. It also cuts down on the great bulk of the book, which would honestly grow beyond limits if everyone in a family of 5 or 6 added their personal experiences to it.

One family had what I found to be a beautiful tradition. My friends grandmother started their family Book of Shadows. And like I mentioned here she kept her personal experiences separate in a number of journals/BOMs. When it came time for her to pass everything on she passed on everything, including her journals/BOMs, which the family keeps in their attic in a steamer trunk. But what made this personally beautiful to me is the fact that her mother and aunts have continued to add to the collection, as she is also now doing, and as she would like for her children to do (who are also being raised in the craft).

The final piece of advice I will give on this subject is simply - KNOW WHAT YOUR BUYING! Make sure you are either buying from someone locally or at least someone you can contact with questions. You want something that is well made with good quality materials. If you're crafty enough, it would be great to look at a few of these options and then make your own... But for those of us who are not so crafty, there are LOTS of places on and off line where you can find Beautiful, Hand Made Books of Shadows. I am listing a few of my favorites below for you to take a look through. I have contacted these makers and checked out their ratings and reviews as well as made sure they were okay with my listing their products here. But please make sure you contact them directly with any questions or concerns BEFORE you buy!

Check out these links and see what you like, what you think and/or get some ideas for yourself...


Mystic Moon Media  -  Wonderful Esty Shoppe!

Lapulia Studios

Magical Omaha

Allegheny Candles - Pittsburgh Local!

Brahm's Bookworks

Bewitching Books

13 Moons

From The Shadows - Located in UK

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Fox Comments and what I'm Thinking...

I wasn't home for the most part yesterday when this really hit the fan, so I really considered simply skipping over the issue altogether. But I felt that would really be doing myself and the cause a great disservice.  I am, as you all know, a very Proud Pagan, and I've always been someone who stood up for what she believed in. So brushing over this issue as if it didn't happen, would simply not be like me at all!

I'm going to do my best to keep this short, at this point there are easily over 5000 other angry Pagans ranting on their own blogs, vlogs, facebook & twitter pages and who knows what other social media groups and pages. On some level I almost feel like the point has been made by now. But I'm sure those who needed to get that point, aren't reading or watching those posts. Although something tells me their bosses are going to pay attention to the Recent Petition demanding their Public Apology and the thousands of emails and comments on their webpage from insulted Wiccans and Pagans all over the country - and most likely, the world.

For those who have yet to see the video (meaning those who are living under a rock) here it is. If you haven't seen it yet, please watch it BEFORE you read the rest of my comments, some of them won't make much sense if you don't know what I'm referring to.



My FIRST reaction to this dark moment in media history was anger! And to be honest, each time I watch it I get angry all over again. But more than anger, this video (and those related to it - this wasn't the only one) breeds sadness in me!  I'm greatly saddened that, in this day and age, people continue to be this ignorant to the world around them.

And what upsets me more than the fact that these individuals are so "out of the loop" is the fact that they are voicing their bias and ignorance on a so called "News Program" that many others look to for "education" purposes.  The idea that these individuals would think that making such comments about ANY religious group on a National News Program completely blows my mind! You can bet if someone from a minority faith were making statements like this on national television about their faith, they would do everything in their power to ensure that the entire program were canceled... 

Now I know, it's Faux News, I shouldn't be shocked! And on some level, I'm not. These "hosts" and "reporters" have been making statements like this more and more lately. Just last week I was a little saddened by some rather ignorant comments made by Kelly Ripa on her morning show. And don't get me started on all the comments made by Kathy Lee over the years.

To me, it means TWO things. First, it means that there is still a HUGE amount of bigotry out there when it comes to religion! And second, it tells me that there are still a HUGE amount of people out there who are undereducated about Pagan beliefs, practices and lifestyles. BOTH of these issues are completely solvable! First, we all - Pagan or not - NEED to speak up against intolerance and prejudice when we see or hear it. Even if it's against a faith or lifestyle we may not totally understand or agree with. And we all need to work to squash our own prejudices against other faiths or lifestyles. And Second, we ALL need to educate ourselves, our children and those around us on the FACTS about other faiths, rather than relying on the media to do it for us. YES, it's more work, but it's worth it!

Beyond all that, there are a few comments in the video I feel I NEED to address. First, believe it or not, there are quite a few of us! In fact, if you do a little homework, Pagans make up around 10% of the American population. And Wicca is the FASTEST growing faith in the US today.  And just to put that in perspective, Christians (which are the largest single religious group) make up about 45% of the American population.  Second, I'm not quite sure how these reporters made it through college if they can't tell the difference between 20% and 20. The University of Michigan made the statement that Pagan/Wiccan holidays now make up 20% of their "off-days." Wiccans do NOT have 20 Holidays! IF you were to add in the Esbats for some reason, you would get 20, but these are not commonly seen as, or recognized as "Holidays." In fact, there are only 8 Holidays. Eight days that I would say ANY Pagan or Wiccan who has been practicing more than a year can name easily! I mean, seriously, would you assume a Christian can name all the Christian holidays? Then why would you assume a Pagan can't name all theirs? What kind of fool?!? Oh, and WHY would anyone be upset that their faith is FINALLY being recognized as equal to those around them? IF these reporters feel Pagans should be upset by their faith being seen as equal, maybe they should live a single day being told that they aren't equal! They'd change their tune REAL QUICK!

Anyways, I don't want to turn this in to a huge run on rant - which it can easily become. So I'm going to stop. But I do hope that Fox, and these reporters learn from the thousands and thousands of angry people who have messaged, emailed and petitioned them against these comments! And I hope that the Pagan community as a whole takes action, not just against these comments, but to help educate those around them as much as possible so that statements like this become a thing of the past!

Oh, and by the way - I don't play D&D! I'm not YET Middle Aged! I'm NOT divorced - in fact, my 7th anniversary is in a week. I'm NOT a midwife - although I would LOVE to be! And yes, I like incense, and candles, like many Non-Pagans I know! Just thought I'd put that out there!
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