Pagan Discrimination in NYC

The Witches' Voice
Image courtesy of Witchvox

Recently I wrote about my experience with what could be called religious discrimination. This post was first published on WitchVox.com and I’ve had lots of people emailing me with their experiences.  One fellow Pagan told me a rather shocking tale of his experiences in NYC and asked me to publish it to make other Wiccans and Pagans aware and so this is his story.

 

“Hi Louisa! Wonderful to get a response from a Witchvox user. I hope all is well with you.

Since I have found out about the situation at the Waterford Connecticut mall [ED: Pete is referring to the fact that a Christian minister took over the shopping mall and removed all Wiccan pendants that were on sale These pendants are now being sold there again Pete has since told me] I have appointed myself unofficial “Investigator of Religious Intolerance” (sort of) I regularly go to Barnes & Nobles in Manhattan at Union Square. I like to talk to New Age people and see what new ideas are emerging as well as help an occasional young wiccan to choose the right book for them. I have worked at a Wiccan book store in the past, so I pretty much know all the books.

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I have spoken to several wiccans about discrimination against members of the craft and unfortunately it seems to be increasing. I have had wiccans tell me that they are fearful to wear their pentagram in public, afraid that some crazy person will target them. Several people have told me that individuals have approached them and made hateful comments and in one case a young woman was spat upon. I didn’t want believe this was happening at first, so I decided I would look into this.

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I began to “lecture” about wicca in Barnes and Nobles to any who would listen to me. I would talk about the principles and values of wicca. If anyone asked me about what books were good I would give them a “talk” about how wicca is an awesome religion. Well, let me tell you, I have had many bizarre and frightening incidents occur to me since I began this. One day, I was speaking to an older gentleman in his 60’s who seemed to be appreciating my Goddess-centered spin on history when he suddenly stopped talking and stared at me strangely. He said “If we find out you know anything specific we will kill you.” I was stunned, I wanted to say: “Who’s we?” Instead I said “You have a good night Sir.” I thought that he was just an isolated case of a lunatic, so I waited a month and went back. I was not there fifteen minutes when a group of people approached me and crowded around me too closely.

 

They were asking me: What books do you recommend?’ and “What practises do you do?” Their manner was threatening. I realized what they were doing and I began to turn it around on them. I asked one of them, a woman in her twenties, “What do YOU do?” and “Why not share with me some of YOUR practises?” They looked at me with silent contempt and left. This type of incident happened a number of times. It did not stop me however. I needed to know who is harassing wiccans. Since those incidents, I have been followed by these same people around the city. These are just a small sample of what I have encountered. Some of the events are too frightening and it would be inappropriate to relate.
In one instance, I met a young woman whom I had spoken to a few times before that was interested in wicca. She has a pure heart and is a good person. I began to talk to her about wiccan spellcrafting. There were some old guys in the New Age section browsing and one younger guy that I know to be well, evil. I had spoken to this guy before and I know that he is completely amoral. He hates witches. He thinks that witches are in his words “stupid.” He interrupted our conversation and asked her why she would ever want to be wiccan. She asked him what he meant. He said to her that she should study something with more “strength”. She asked “Like what?” He deliberately tried to be vague and wouldn’t answer. She tried to talk to me but he kept on interrupting. I got the impression that he was deliberately trying to interfere. The young woman got agitated and left. He looked at me with a pleased expression.

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I spoke to a magician friend of mine about all this and he said that you have to be careful because there are christian and other types of occult groups here in NYC that are “going after” wiccans and other magical folk. I asked him what he meant and he told me that several of his longtime friends have had to move out of NYC because of the harassment. I know that he is telling me the truth. I can only hope that this is a temporary development and that these are just foolish people doing stupid things.

 

I also dearly hope that this isn’t the beginning of a fascist culture!!! I’ll keep trying to protect those of the craft. Please remember, Witches heal, protect and serve. Please feel free to post this in your blog and on witchvox. The people of the craft should know. Blessed Be Pete.”

 

Thanks for sharing that with us Pete. This is a very shocking story but at least by spreading awareness we may be able to improve the situation.

If anyone has any stories (good or bad!) that they would like to share please do so!

Blessed Be!

StormJewel

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Top Tips to Stay ‘Green’ When Gift-Giving

In order to try keep the planet healthy and sustainable, it’s important that we consider being environmentally friendly in as many aspects of our life as is possible.

While Paganism is known as an earth religion, something I noticed when studying the Pagan community is that this love for the earth frequently does not translate into a green approach to living our lives, which when you think about it seems kind of odd, given the condition of the earth at the moment.

So with that in mind I plan to write more about environmental concerns (in a non preachy way!) and here to kick this off is Phill from Late Late Gifts who has written an excellent guest post on how you can integrate this way of thinking and doing into your gift giving.

Top Tips to Stay ‘Green’ When Gift-Giving

Guest Post by Phill from Late Late Gifts US.

Reusable Gift Wrap Cloth used in Traditional Japanese Gift Giving
Reusable Gift Wrap Cloth used in Traditional Japanese Gift Giving

When it comes to gift giving, incorporating your green living practices can be a little confusing. There are many ways however, to give your loved ones beautiful gifts while still remaining environmentally friendly. There is no need to break the bank or go out of your way- many of the best holiday ideas can be found right in your own home! Here are some of the top tips for green gifts for your winter festivities!

 

Recycle

Have you received a gift that you didn’t much enjoy, or couldn’t find a use for? We all have, and for some strange reason seem to hang onto these unused items. These make perfect gifts for friends and family! You may know someone who could really use that present you didn’t have need for, it doesn’t cost a thing, and it’s a great way to recycle a great gift. Just make sure you don’t re-gift it to the original sender!

Make it at Home

There is nothing more heart felt than a gift made by your own hands. Homemade presents are especially suitable for Winter Solstice. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, and crafting something yourself gives you the opportunity to put loads of loving energy into the item!

Think simple, and it’ll be even easier. When doing homemade, you even have the option to combine recycling! For example, mittens can easily be made from an old sweater, or a dream pillow from an old sheet or t-shirt you no longer use. The ideas are endless! This is a perfect creative outlet that guarantees you have a unique gift to give someone, all while remaining green!

Mind the Paper

Possibly one of the biggest negative environmental impacts during the holiday season is the massive amount of paper used in wrapping. Tons of paper are used to wrap gifts, and then promptly thrown away. This year, save a few trees by avoiding wrapping paper altogether.

Other options for pretty presentations include using newspaper. Recycle that news you were throwing away. If you want it to be more festive, it’s very easy to paint the paper in any kind of color or design you want.

An even better alternative is to use something less disposable. Consider decorating a wooden box that not only houses the present, but will be usable later too. You can also incorporate the wrapping material into the present itself. For example, you give DIY sachet or dream pillow kits with instructions on how to put them together. Use the fabric that makes up the sachet or pillow as the wrapping paper.

The options for green gift giving during the Solstice and other holidays are endless. All it takes is a little imagination and creativity!

 

About the Author

This article was written by Phill from Late Late Gifts US.

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Sticking to Principles or Religious Discrimination?

Religious Discrimination?
Religious Discrimination?

Recently I was looking for an SEO (search engine optimization) service to help promote a blog post I had written about Wiccan tools and supplies. I found a freelancer, who advertised the service I was looking for and submitted my article to him.

Shortly afterwards, I got a very polite message back from him explaining that he couldn’t help me, because he was a Christian and his faith did not allow him to recognize or promote anything to do with Wicca or the occult. Here is the message:

“My dear friend , i am really sorry …but i cannot market your site.
Please do not be offended. But my faith refuses for me to promote or recognize anything that is related or has to do with the occult, witchcraft or wicca.
I myself am a studying theologian and Christian Minister in training.
Please accept my apology and consider a submission to this link below link that offers the exact same service as mine.
(link removed)
I will request you a refund ASAP
Humbly yours
(name removed – let’s just call him ‘B’)

Was I offended? Not really, the email was so polite and apologetic that it would have been hard for me to be offended. ‘B’ wasn’t censuring me as such, since he was even recommending someone else to help me, he was simply stating that he felt bound by his religion not to work with me.

So what did I feel? Saddened a bit, but not surprised at this Christian take on Wicca and the occult, but mainly thoughtful. His email raised several questions for me.

I found it an interesting concept that an SEO person would refuse to promote various sites on what could be called moral grounds – given the variety of subjects and products on the Internet, and this led me to my first question:

1. What other topics would ‘B’ refuse to promote and how far does he go to ensure that sites do not conflict with his beliefs or personal morals? Would he promote a Jewish website, or a Muslim one? What about a gay site, or even, say, a celebrity one that talked about sex before marriage and perhaps promoted behavior that goes against what the church proscribes. I posted a brief note about this on twitter and a Pagan tweeter told me that a friend of theirs worked for a Christian company and said that they regularly turned away the ‘wrong’ sort of people.

This line of questioning brought me to my second question:

2. What did ‘B’ mean by saying that his faith disallowed him from ‘recognizing anything that is related with the occult, Witchcraft or Wicca.’ By refusing to recognize Wicca – does this mean he is saying that he does not believe in it, and therefore won’t promote it because he believes it to be misleading? Would he feel the same about other religions – i.e. that they are simply misguided versions of the truth.

Or does he/Christianity in fact think (as many Christians do) that Wicca is related to devil worship? (We know, of course, that it isn’t – and the irony is that not only do we not we believe in the devil but in fact this figure actually comes from Christianity not Paganism) … And if B’s religion tells him that it is unethical to promote my site – either because in Christianity’s view it is ‘bad’ or simply because it is ‘incorrect’ – does he apply this same system of judgment to other sites?

I wondered if ‘B’ looked into sites that promote a certain product and if he looked to see if the product was ethical, something he believed in, and something that his faith allowed him to promote. What if someone was promoting a health cure that was in fact a scam? How would he know without researching it, and if he did research it, did he really have time to do this for all the sites he promoted? What if someone was promoting say, a book, that was not a scam but perhaps badly written and a waste of money?

And this made me ask…

3. If I were offering SEO services – what, if anything, would I refuse to promote? After thinking about it I decided that in his position I would refuse to promote any site that was designed to incite hatred or violence of any kind. I would promote a Christian site, as long as it didn’t fall under those categories. On the other hand I wouldn’t promote something like scientology. Why? Because it seems to me to be a cult, that uses pseudo science and other techniques to con people into handing over their money.

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At this point I had to recognize that I too would make judgments on the validity of other’s beliefs, and link that into my business practices. I know there is a big difference between Wicca and scientology, but perhaps ‘B’ doesn’t. On the other hand I have had some personal experience with scientology and Christianity, but I suspect that ‘B’ does not have knowledge or experience of Paganism.

(Scientology – I got roped into watching a ridiculous video about ‘dianetics’ – the theory that science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard came up with before scientology. They then gave me a totally inaccurate personality test designed to ensnare the sad and lonely, telling me I was depressed, angry and violent when I actually felt really happy and am rarely angry and never ever violent – then tried to sell me books at £30 a go.)

(Christianity – I was brought up a Catholic, went to a Catholic School and felt devoutly Catholic till about the age of 12 when I began to question many of what I see as the hypocrisies of Christianity, becoming atheist until I discovered Paganism at 14.)

Furthermore, unlike ‘B’, my judgment about Scientology was made based on my personal moral code, rather than dictated to me by my religion and this led me to my final question:

4. Should we blindly follow a religious code, or any other code that doesn’t come from our own sense of right and wrong? This is an ethical and philosophical question that has baffled people throughout the ages. Many have felt that if we all obey our own moral codes then people will end up doing what they like, and that a religious code can keep us all on the same path. But thinkers like philosopher Jean Paul Sartre rebelled against this, proposing existentialism, part of which explains that since every situation and person is unique, there is no ‘one size fits all’ morality, and that we need to use our minds and hearts to make the best decision for each case.

For me, this is clearly the best answer, and the one that I live my life by, and I would say that the majority of Pagans would do the same. Being an unorthodox religion (i.e. there is no formal written doctrine) there aren’t really any rules, although I think that most if not all Pagans would agree that there is an implicit understanding that you should try to be a good person, expressed by one of few written down ethical codes in Paganism ‘an’ it harm none, do what ye will’.

Wikipedia paraphrases Judy Harrow nicely ‘This is usually interpreted as a declaration of the freedom to act, along with the necessity of taking responsibility for what follows from one’s actions and minimizing harm to oneself and others.’

While this lack of formal ethics may worry some non Pagans, I would respond that Pagans do not need a religious prescription of ethics to make them be a good person, nor do they need the fear of going to hell or the hanging carrot of heaven to make them act conscionably. We all know what is right and wrong (even if at times we have differing opinions) and it is our responsibility to live as good people, regardless of what our religion tells us. If we fail to think for ourselves, and simply do what we are told, there is a danger that a great many wrongs will be committed – a scenario has that has played itself out over millennia through the many wars started in ‘God’s’ name.

Sticking to principles or religious discrimination? – Conclusion: After consideration, I don’t feel that B’s act was religious discrimination, perhaps due to the polite and apologetic way that he expressed his inability to work with me. I think that he was sticking to his principles – i.e. that of following his religious code, but I do feel that acting in this way is a worrying and potentially dangerous thing – particularly for a religious minister, and that ethically whilst we can use the principles of our religions and beliefs for guiding us, ultimately we should all think for ourselves, and act in a way that satisfies our conscience.

This article was first published by me on Witchvox.com and I’ve had loads of you email me to tell me your thoughts and experiences with discrimination.  Interestingly many people who mailed me practice a kind of syncretic religion including both Christianity and Paganism.  I’ve also had some worrying stories of discrimination in NYC and will be posting another post shortly at the request of a fellow Pagan.

Was religious discrimination or not? Comment and let me know your thoughts, and please do share your experiences of discrimination, whatever the cause so that we can fight it by raising awareness and (by hopefully) helping to create solidarity!

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Symbolic & Pagan Jewellery

Guest Post by Hallmark Cards

CruxCroix for Protection on Life's Journey
CruxCroix for Protection on Life’s Journey

Symbolic jewellery has long been worn, both in the days when it meant everything to the wearer, a protective charm or a pendant that would ward off evil spirits and nowadays when pendants are often worn with little understanding of the long history and mythology that surrounds the item. Everything from crosses to Pagan symbols and foreign letters are used to adorn wearers often with comic results if the wearer accidentally meets someone who does understand the meaning.

There are those who still wear jewellery with a full understanding of what it means though and especially with the use of the internet, research possibilities have extended allowing those with an interest in the topic to follow it and meet other enthusiasts online. Nowadays a new market for symbolic jewellery has re-emerged demonstrating a passion for all sorts on Pagan imagery.

Anubis for Guidance on Life's Journey
Isis for Protection of the Earth

The Egyptians have long had some of the world`s most beautiful jewellery, ever since Cleopatra would swathe herself out in the jewels of a kingdom before meeting her people or guests. The vast array of costly and elaborate Egyptian jewellery that she is documented to have worn is testament to the fact that the culture has made some of the most beautiful pieces in the world.

There are various symbols that are iconic to Egyptian culture, both symbolising the culture itself in representations of the sphinx and pyramids and reflecting the ancient mythology with images of gods, symbols of power and ancient stories.

Thor's Hammer for Courage and Strength
Thor’s Hammer for Courage and Strength

The Nordic culture is perhaps one of the most misunderstood in history but modern day Viking symbols do a great deal to reflect the diverse culture as well as the fierce warriors that came out of this land. Often overshadowed by the image of the fierce Viking warrior thirsty for his enemy`s blood, the Nordic culture was one that celebrated many things as well as warfare.

There is a vast amount of symbolism in the culture and the range of jewellery being developed with this symbolism in mind is reflecting this. There are various stories that go with every symbol and pendant, from the tale of Thor`s hammer to that of the serpent that grew so big it could surround the entire sea. Both of these stories result in an attractive and symbolic pendant that echoes of a long past and mythology.

Dragon Athame for Manifestation of Thought
Dragon Athame for Manifestation of Thought

Dragon jewellery is likewise becoming incredibly popular, primarily developing out of Eastern cultures and tales, this nevertheless is a creature whose mythology and history has been influenced by a vast number of cultures and stories. The Welsh flag itself has an image of a dragon on it and ancient British culture is strongly influenced by tales of dragons and dragon hunts.

Dragon pendants and symbols are supposed to invest the wearer with many of the attributes of the dragon itself so power, strength, protection, courage, long life and luck are amongst the many benefits bestowed by the symbolism. Added to this of course the jewellery is highly attractive and can make for beautifully elaborate ornaments. Dragon pendants are a particularly good gift to buy friends for Christmas and Winter Solstice, especially when you explain all these benefits and since we are already buying Christmas cards it is probably about time to start thinking about gifts too.

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Viking Symbols and Pagan Jewellery

I love Viking symbols because they are filled with beautiful imagery and the powerful stories and mythology from the Norse culture.  Here are some of my favourite Viking signs and symbols that have also been made into gorgeous Pagan jewellery.

Jorgmugand and the Sunwheel

Jormugand is a sea serpent that was one of the three children of Loki and his wife the giant Angrboda.  Jormugand was growing very quickly and this made the other gods nervous, so one day Odin decided to throw him into the sea.

Viking Symbol - Sunwheel and Jormugand
Viking Symbol – Sunwheel and Jormugand

This didn’t really do much as Jormugand grew bigger and bigger until he was able to surround the whole world and grasp his own tail, and because of that he earned the name Midgard Serpent or World Serpent.

Jormugand can be found deep in the ocean where he bites himself in the tail, and we are all caught in the coils of his tail.  In many ways then, this Viking symbol stands for the concept of eternity, or perhaps the cyclical nature of life, on the other hand we are still left with a feeling of uncertainty (no fluffy happy endings in Viking mythology!) since the story goes that if he lets go of his tail we will all die, and when the universe ends, Jormugand and his arch enemy Thor will fight to the death.

However this symbol can be made less dark in the way it is shown in the pendant on the right – Jormugand circling the Sunwheel.

The Sunwheel is a very sacred symbol which can be found on rock carvings and ancient jewellery from the Norse times. The sunwheel symbolises how important sun is to farming and agriculture, and so added to Jormugand really does represent the cyclical nature of life.

 

Thor’s Hammer

Thor's Hammer
Thor’s Hammer

Thor’s hammer, known as Mjollnir, is the hammer (sometimes depicted as an axe or club) of the fearsome god Thor, and was a very popular pendant in ancient times, since many ancient hammer jewellery pieces have been found.

This mightily powerful weapon is even capable of leveling mountains and so becomes a wonderful way of symbolising strength, both inner and outer, and also precision, since using Mjollnir meant that Thor would never fail in his aim.

Other magickal qualities of the Hammer meant that Thor could throw it and always find it again, and also he could make it so small that he could hide it in his Tunic if he wanted to.  Having a small pendant then, that you can display or hide under your clothes, seems very fitting!

Thor was a particularly popular god for medieval Scandinavians and many ancient pendants of his hammer have been found, and is now an important figure for many Pagans.

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The Hammer of Thor was also worn by people as a way to outwardly display their Pagan faith and as to show their opposition to Christianization.  Many people also practiced syncretic beliefs, meaning the combining of two or more religions, and moulds of a combined cross and hammer have been discovered.  This can be seen in the Wolf’s Cross which was a famous Icelandic pendant, worn by both Pagan Vikings and Christians.

 

Eagershelm

Eagershelm aka Aegishjalmur
Eagershelm aka Aegishjalmur

Aka Aegishjalmur – aka “helm of awe’.  This Viking symbol was used for protection, particularly in battle.  It was originally a helmet won by Sigurd when he killed the dragon Fafner, but for the Viking people it was not actually used as a helmet, instead this symbol would be worn over the forehead, maybe scratched into the inside of the helmet, or even drawn on the head using blood or spit.

A warrior about to go into battle would press Aegishjalmur against his head (or draw it on) and say ‘I bear the Helm of Awe’, giving him power and strength in battle, both mentally and physically.

There are also other ways of using and conceptualising Eagershelm, for instance it can be used to put fear into the minds’ of enemies or even to calm the fear in yourself.

Elhaz - Norse Rune
Elhaz

Further magic can be found in the Aegishjalmur, in the way that runes are hidden inside the symbol, particularly the rune Elhaz which can be also be used for protection, and is thought to symbolise an elk’s horns – a powerful symbol of self protection.

 

Elhaz keeps in good energies and helps to repel the bad, making it ideal for creating a sacred space or even pushing away negative energy and negative people. This rune can be found eight times over at the ends of spokes of this sign, but also eight times more within the spokes itself, making Aegishjalmur an incredibly powerful viking symbol.

 

I hope you enjoyed this article, feel free to share your favourite things from Norse symbolism.  For more Viking Symbols and Handmade Jewellery, please visit my shop! Or read this article to find out how to magickally charge your jewellery.

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Wiccan Supplies Essentials

Here’s your guide to some of the most useful and essential Pagan and Wiccan altar tools!

Guest Post by Moon Light’s Magic

Wiccan Supplies Essentials

The Athame
The Athame is a ritual knife used in the witch...An athame or athamé is a ceremonial double-edged dagger, one of many magical tools used in Classic Witchcraft and other Pagan beliefs and religions such as Wicca for different ritual knives. A black-handled knife called an arthame appears in specific versions of the Key of Solomon, a grimoire originating in the Middle Ages.

The athame’s main use is for ritual and magical purposes only, to direct energy if things such as herbs or cords need to have to be cut, one more knife called a boline – a white-handled knife – is used. An exception is the “kitchen witchcraft” philosophy, which actively encourages the use of magical tools for mundane purposes to improve the witch’s familiarity with them.

An athame may well be employed in the demarcation of the Magic circle rite.

As a masculine principle, it is usually utilized in combination with the chalice, as feminine principle, evoking the act of procreation, as a symbol of universal creativity. This is a symbol of the Wonderful Rite in Wiccan rituals. Some contemporary witchcraft traditions may well prefer not to use iron blades, instead preferring alternatives such as copper, bronze or wood. This is most widespread amongst traditions that have a specific fondness of the Sidhe, to whom iron is supposedly harmful.

Pentacle ChaliceThe Chalice
In Wicca a chalice, as a feminine principle, is usually employed in combination with the Athame (ceremonial black-handled knife), as male principle. Combining the two evokes the act of procreation, as a symbol of universal creativity. This is a symbol of the Excellent Rite in Wiccan rituals. A chalice is also utilized in the Tiny Rite.

A chalice is a symbol of the element of water, a feminine element representing intuition, gestation, psychic ability, and the subconscious. The Cup also stands in as a symbol of the Goddess, of the womb, and the female generative organs. The chalice is often interchangeable with the cauldron.

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Wiccan Altar Bell
Wiccan Altar BellBells are like the Voice of the Goddess. When you ring one, it brings the Divine’s attention to you. And your attention to the Divine.

A bell with a lovely tone will call gorgeous, healing energy to you. Bells can also be utilized to clear energy. At the end of a ritual is a good time for this, but if unwanted energy crops up throughout a ritual, you can use the bell to disperse it. The purpose is that the clear tone of the altar bell will drive away negativity and keep evil spirits at bay. There are claims that evil spirits can not tolerate the sounds of a clear high pitched bell.

Employing an altar bell to call upon the goddess will guarantee you are far more protected throughout your rituals, spells, and ceremonies.

Altar Cloths
Pagan Altar ClothIn specific Neopagan faiths, Wicca in specific, the altar cloth is placed on the altar exactly where magical workings are performed. Several altars are patterned with pentagrams, the classic symbol for Wicca.

Altar cloths prevent damage, dirt, and grime to form on your altar. It is usually best to maintain your altar clean to guarantee you appease the several gods or goddesses you may possibly be calling upon in you rituals. Keeping ones altar untidy can show disrespect to the gods and goddess, so be confident to clean your altar cloth often. Several altar cloths can be put into the wash with your other clothing whenever it is time for you to do laundry.

Altar Tiles
The altar tile is often a pentacle and used on a Wiccan altar as a focal point for ritual work. It is commonly made of metal, wood, or clay stoneware.

Pentacle Altar TileThe tile itself is usually inscribed with the pentagram (5-pointed star) and at times with other symbols. The star symbol represents the four elements of earth, air, fire, water and a fifth element of spirit, as represented by the Goddess and God. The tile is positioned with the spirit tip pointing up to signify that the spirit rules more than the elements.

Moon’s Light Magic also has an info blog about ritual tools, Wicca, Witchcraft, the occult, paranormal, and divination where you can understand almost everything you need to know on these subjects:
Wicca and WitchCraft Details Weblog
Searching for Wholesale? Wiccan Supplier provides 40% off retail price on all their Wiccan supplies.
Wholesale Wiccan Supplies

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How to use and activate Crystals for Healing

So you’re thinking of getting some healing crystals or maybe you already have them and you want to know what to do with them, here you will find out how to cleanse and activate the crystals so that you can receive the maximum benefit from them. If you haven’t bought any yet you can take a look in my shop to see the various healing properties of each crystal, there are also gift sets for things like curing insomnia, boosting confidence or beating depression naturally. Alternatively you may wish to get a Rock Crystal of the Quartz variety which is one of the most powerful of stones and is all purpose.


 

A rose quartz pendants can help you heal.


Firstly the crystals need to be cleansed and activated.

There are different ways to cleanse crystals, and some people advocate cleansing them with cool water, preferably mineral, then leave them to dry – drying them with a towel for instance attach fluff which collects negativity. But be aware that certain precious stones should not touch water. I prefer using natural (ie not idodized) sea salt – you cover the crystals with the sea salt and leave them for about 24hrs. Then you remove the salt and leave them for a day in the sun or if you are not seeing much sun at the mo then moonlight is good too!

Since the dawn of time, Lapis Lazuli has been a powerful stone associated with royalty. It is a very strong stone that evoked the powers of the third eye chakra. This helps in being more creative, intuitive and even allows you to enhance your psychic powers.

Secondly you must attune your mind to the crystal/s.

  1. Play some soft gentle music to get you relaxed and in the mood.
  2. Place the crystal at eye level next to a lit candle and focus on the flame. This will help to calm and focus your mind and remove any other distractions, which is essential for crystal gazing.
  3. With half-shut eyes watch the light expand and let the glow illuminate the far edges of the room.
  4. Breathe in deeply and breathe out slowly, deliberately breathing onto the crystal.
  5. Now imagine yourself in a favourite place, if there is no where you can think of in particular then choose an idylic setting, such as in the woods, in a field full of flowers or on a deserted beach.
  6. You’re doing well! At this point you will be becoming attuned to the gemstone, and this will allow the healing energies to flow between you and the stone.
  7. Now take your crystal to a peaceful and light place – it can be indoors or outdoors, and this time without the candle, concentrate on the crystal until its body light explands. Let its energy field surround you as you breathe in the crystal’s vibrations.
The Dolphins Triskilian for Guidance and Inner Peace represent harmony and spirituality while the traditional Triskilian design shows the three realms of being. This charm may be worn for guidance and inner peace.

Now you can carry your crystal about with you on your daily business, be sure to play with it or touch it in your pocket or whatever, the more contact you have with the crystal, but also the more focus you have on it, the better it will work. At night you can put it near or under your pillow so it can work whilst you sleep.

If you have a bad experience or a difficult day, you should cleanse the crystal again using one of the methods mentioned above. You may wish to do the attuning process again as well. The more you do this process the easier and more natural it will become.

Happy Healing!

StormJewel x

Amethyst, gemstone of the heavens set on the symbol of fire with the Sigil of Cassiel, Angel of Saturn inscribed for Karma clearing.
Chatoya – Tigers Eye Pendant for Inner Confidence
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Voodoo and Hoodoo Beliefs and Magick Around the World

Voodoo is an ancient art of magick, healing and meditation coming from Africa.

In my previous article (Voodoo and Hoodoo – what are they really all about?), I explained how West Africa is the cradle of Voodoo, and talked about the nature of the religion there, as well as giving you a look into a young initiates ceremony.  In this second part of the article you can find out more about Voodoo in different parts of the world, and learn about the magick and practices of Hoodoo

Voodoo in Haiti

As I explained the previous article, Voodoo traveled to countries such as the US and Haiti, through African people being sent into slavery, and the religion became different things in different places.  The Voodoo (or Vodou) of Haiti is close to that of Benin, although has absorbed many religious elements from Christianity.

Voodoo in Louisiana and New Orleans

Like the Voodoo of Haiti and the Hoodoo of the US, Christianity has been a large influence upon the beliefs of this religion, whilst at the same time keeping much from the Voodoo of Benin.  The flexibility and adaptability of Voodoo is no doubt a lot to do with the face that there is no formal doctrine or sacred book, and knowledge is passed orally.

Like Paganism, the religion can mean different things to different people, but a core belief is that the main God does not interfere in the everyday lives of people, instead it is spiritual forces which affect everyday life.  Just like the Voodoo of Benin, communication with the spirits is achieved through dancing, chanting, drumming and so on, and ancestor worship is also important.

Louisiana Voodoo is commonly used to help people with sicknesses, addictions and other ailments, and also to help the hungry and poor.  Rituals tend to be conducted behind closed doors.

Jesus Christ and Mary are important figures in the religion and reciting the Hail Mary and the Lord’s Prayer is part of Louisiana Hoodoo practice.

Superstitions, Spells and Voodoo dolls

If you lay a broom across the doorway at night, a witch can’t come in and hurt you.

Here are some spells and superstitions from Louisiana Voodoo

  • A lock of a girls hair brings good luck.
  • If you lay a broom across the doorway at night, a witch can’t come in and hurt you.
  • Having a woman visit you the first thing on Monday mornings is bad luck for the rest of the week.
  • If you sweep trash out of the house after dark you will sweep away your luck.
  • Don’t shake a tablecloth outside after dark or someone in your family will die.
  • If a woman sprinkles some salt from her house to yours, it will give you bad luck until you clean the salt away and put pepper over your door sill.
  • If a woman wants her husband to stay away from other woman, she can do so by putting a little of her blood in his coffee, and he will never quit her.
  • If a woman’s husband dies and you don’t want her to marry again, cut all of her husband’s shoes all in little pieces, just as soon as he is dead, and she will never marry again.
  • You can give someone a headache by taking and turning their picture upside down.
  • You can harm a person in whatever way you want to by getting a lock of his hair and burning some and throwing the rest away.

Whilst Voodoo dolls are usually thought in Western culture to be a way of harming people, this is incorrect, they are to bless people.  Pins are stuck in the dolls to attach a picture of the person to the doll, thus creating a magical link, and then a magical cure is performed using a special recipe (the cure is known as a gris gris), and is usually either for love, power, luck and finance or removing a curse.

What is Hoodoo?

Hoodoo Lucky Hand Root Orchid
Hoodoo Lucky Hand Root Orchid

Hoodoo can be called folk magic is better understood as a collection of magical practices rather than a religion, and this is made clear by changing the name from Voodoo to Hoodoo.  Hoodoo’s magick focuses on using roots, herbs and natural elements for magical and medicinal use.

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However there is still worship of deities, and like the Haiti Voodoo, (in fact perhaps more so) many Christian elements have been absorbed into the religion.  Christian figures such as Moses are worshiped, and the Bible is seen as a source for spells, particularly the Psalsms.  The bible itself can be carried as a talisman to keep people safe.  Hoodoo also absorbed certain Native American practices as well.  Like Paganism there is no formal doctrine, or structured hierarchy, and knowledge tends to be passed on orally.

 

Some Magickal Items of Hoodoo

Goofers Dust To Defeat Enemies
Goofers Dust To Defeat Enemies

Hoodoo magick items have become popular with people from all around the world, and from all traditions. I have tried Goofers Dust To Defeat Enemies.  This green dust can be thrown on the land of someone that means you harm, to bring confusion and bad luck to their household.

This works well in tandem with Hot Foot Powder Incense, which can be sprinkled around your home to keep away enemies and troublemakers and to bring peace to your household.

Lucky Root Hand
Lucky Root Hand

Another popular Hoodoo item is the Lucky Hand Root for Protection and Good Fortune, so called because it resembles a small withered hand (but it’s only an orchid root!).  This root is known for bringing good luck and safety, and is particularly used for bringing luck to gamblers.

Cobra Black Snake Pellets can be used in rituals of protection, and are also a great magickal aid for spiritual healing rituals, cleansing such as cleansing a space for an altar, or a new home, and to assist in removing curses or jinxes.

Finally another popular Hoodoo ingredient is the Adam and Eve Roots for Love and Marriage proposals.  This can be used in two ways, firstly a charm to encourage that special someone to propose, or for good luck to encourage the person to say yes!  Secondly it can be used by lovers to help discourage rivals and prevent temptation.  The woman carries the round white seed and the man the long bud.

Want to know even more about Voodoo and Hoodoo?

Here is a great site full of interesting information, written by a Voodoo practitioner.  A page I found particularly interesting was this one which goes into more detail about what Hoodoo is and where it came from.

Are you interested in Voodoo and Hoodoo? Have you or would you try Hoodoo Magick?  Comment below and feel free to ask me any questions beliefs or practices, or contact me privately through my website if you prefer.

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Voodoo & Hoodoo – What are they really all about?

Voodoo in Benin
Voodoo in Benin

In the west, commonly when someone mentions Voodoo, it evokes ideas of black magic, devil worship, scary sorcery, and films tend to depict Voodoo as originating in Haiti.

But in fact this scary reputation mainly comes from Europeans and Christians from the past who sought to quash and dehumanise the people of Africa and their religions.

 

Where does Voodoo come from?

Some people believe that Voodoo is the world’s oldest religion.

The religion of Voodoo, (or Vodoun as it is also known, particularly by those who practice it), is thought by many to originate from Benin, a country in West Africa, but is also practiced on the West coast, including people from Togo, Angola, Nigeria and so on.  The slave trade in 16th-18th century meant that many Africans were shipped to places such as Cuba, Haiti, Brazil and the USA, spreading the religion.

However the religious aspects were often changed and lost in these places and much of Voodoo became Hoodoo, which is generally thought not to be a religion, instead mainly focused on the magic and medicinal aspects of Voodoo. I’ll be explaining more about Hoodoo in my next article.  The word Voodoo actually comes from Vodou, which is the name of the spirits that the people worship.

For many years Voodoo had to be practiced in secret, until 1996, January 10th which is now Nation Voodoo Day in Benin, and people celebrate with song, dance and sacrifices.  This suppression was due to the European colonial influence and also the zealous Christians, who generally tried to quash local religions, perhaps believing this was a good way to control people, and in colonial times fines, torture and death could be imposed upon people found to be practicing Voodoo. Today there are an estimated 50 million worshippers around the world.

So what is Voodoo all about?

Voodoo is an animistic religion, which means that the followers believe that god is in everything from the leaves of trees, to the wind that blows.  It’s a Polytheistic religion, like Paganism, meaning that there are many gods, and again similar to Paganism is the idea of revering nature.  Ancestor worship is also another very important aspect.

Ceremonies and Rituals of Vodoun

There are complex ceremonies and rituals in which the aim is usually to make contact with a spirit (the Vodou), perhaps an ancestor, or one of their lesser deities (called the Loa).  People try to gain their favour by offering animal sacrifices and gifts, in order to get help such as better health, luck or abundance.  The humans and the Loa are co-dependant in this way, with the Loa giving protection and good fortune and the people giving gifts.

Rituals are also held to celebrate lucky or important events, such to give thanks for rain, for marriages, births and deaths, and for healing.

Ceremonies often last all night and are an exciting affair, with singing, drumming and chanting.

The Sakpata Guardian Ritual

Let’s follow one girl – Ianthe (meaning violet flower) into her initiation and receiving of her guardian

First the oracles are consulted to see which divinity she will align with, who will become her supernatural guardian?  The god Sakpata is revealed – god of disease and protection.  He is at once feared and respected for his power.  To become his initiate is a long process.

For nine whole months Ianthe stays in a special temple where she learns the esoteric knowledge of Sakpata, including secret dances, words and language, and the secret name of Sakpata.  Her cheeks are scarified (ritual scarring) to indicate the change and knowledge she has received.

The initiation day

Today Ianthe is wearing a white bonnet, with a cowrie shell necklace, a bright print dress that looks like small pox!  Why? Because Sakpata is also the God of pox.

There is excitement in the air and everybody is anticipating the great feast to come, as well as a whole day and night of celebration and ceremony.  Everyone is dressed in fine clothes and jewellery. There are people with strange costumes.

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We can hear the atmospheric shaking of rattles and rhythmic beating of drums.  The village is filled with the chanting and dancing of the priests, priestesses and students.

The dancing and chanting builds in intensity, with women cartwheeling and shimmying low to the ground, until one dancer becomes possessed by Sakpata. She flails and convulses until the god takes full control. This dancer now embodies the god and is treated with the respect that a god commands.

At this point an animal is sacrificed to the Sakpata, and he initiates Ianthe and then leaves.  Soon after the feast begins and people enthusiastically begin to eat and celebrate.

Ianthe is now a fully fledged initiate and will have to follow certain rules and laws in her life (specific to her new guardian Sakpata), for instance she may not eat gineau fowl or have sex on market day.

The ritual and process has been very costly to her family, but to not have such a ritual would be unthinkable, as everybody must have a spiritual guardian that they can call on for help.

Take a look at part of a Vodoun ceremony here. This is a ritual to honour one of the gods.

 

 

 

The Magick of Voodoo

So I’ve written a lot about the rituals and ceremonies, but does Voodoo use magic?  Yes, and this is most obvious to visitors of Benin at the Fetish Markets, where items of power and potions can be bought, such as parts from dead animals, love and money potions.  Part of the scary reputation of Voodoo may come from these markets where things like cured apes heads can be bought (said to aid memory) or dead owls and vultures which are used to counter a curse.

Some people argue that all religions have a dark and a light side, and others say that the bad stuff you can buy at these fetish markets is not actually Voodoo but Bokors (sorcerer) items.

Is Voodoo Cruel to Animals?

I don’t know whether these animals are dead already before they are changed to fetish items, but I have mentioned a lot about animal sacrifice.  It’s important to remember that the sacrificed animals are always eaten, and that the conditions animals are kept in are far preferable to those found in the mass farming of the west.

Morals

The morals of Voodoo focus on love and support of your family and community, and it is highly valued to be able to protect yourself and those around you when needed.  Dishonour and greed are highly frowned upon.

Find out more about Voodoo and Hoodoo around the world, in part 2 of this article, coming soon!

Image Credit: Vodoun.fr

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Healing – How does it work? My Thoughts

Crystals for Healing

As I write this I am recovering from a seriously nasty virus, so have been thinking a lot about healing (well I was thinking about it before but have had even more time now!) and what it is that makes it work, be it reiki, acupuncture, crystal healing, qi gung, self hypnosis or any one of the many other types of alternative and holistic healing.

First off I’d just like to point out that I’m by no means a healing expert or guru, but have a small amount of experience in that I have taken the first level of reiki training, have received different types of healing, and have been working with meditation and energy work for many years.

The first thing that all these types of practices have in common is the use of energy (or Qi, or Chi or life force, or vital energy or whatever you prefer to call it/think of it as.

Practices such as reflexology and acupuncture work (as my basic understanding of it goes) by realigning the energy pathways, or meridians that flow through your body.  In common with so many alternative healing practices, these systems believe that many things (including physical and emotional events) can cause blockages in your energy lines, leading to illness and disease.

I once spent some time listening to a Paul Mckenna self-hypnosis CD which aimed to help you keep your immune system strong and healthy by learning to give yourself an endorphine boost.  He sescribes how the place where endorphines are released can be different for different people, but for me it was the heart chakra, the same place as the reiki energy fills up first before going on to heal the rest of me, interesting I thought….

The plot thickened the other day when I read that certain people believe that acupuncture works by stimulating your endorphins.

Things continued to get more confusing when I practiced a relaxation meditation that involves following the path of energy around your body, common in things like mindfulness, yoga, and also in Robert Bruce’s New Energy Ways.  I felt the energy course around my body, particularly in my hands and feet – very similar to what I have felt when practicing the tarot, but also when trying out QiGong.

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Reiki, unlike say reflexology or acupuncture, is a passive form of healing in that the healer is merely a channel for a an energy source that exists outside (but also inside!) of our bodies.  My reiki healer would often say how much she liked giving reiki treatments since it was also a treatment for her.  Yet I began to wonder, since the feelings of energy, the burst of pleasure associated with endorphins, was pretty much the same as what I had experienced from all these other metaphysical practices.  Was reiki just a self delusion?  Tricking yourself that there is something greater when it’s all within you?

But then I realised the (perhaps obvious) answer – This energy, this Qi, Life Force, Love, Divine Light, Mother Nature, God even if you are religious, whatever you call it, is not only within us, but also powers the universe.  It is the thing that I think I have always believed makes the world go round so to speak.  And importantly, it’s all the same thing!  Whatever you call it, however you manipulate it – drawing it in from the world or redistributing it in your body, it’s the same, all is one!

The feeling of endorphins being triggered is a sign of us connecting to that universal force. love, whatever, and is a very healing thing.  Even before I connected all this I began to intuitively feel that whenever I triggered that feeling, I was getting some strong healing.

We love to be in love as that triggers that feeling, but a relationship can also bring negatives, but if, as someone once suggested to me, we can hang on to that feeling of love, regardless of there being a single object of it, we can be happy and healthy.

You probably know the way that when you start thinking of something it keeps coming up in new ways, (some people call this synchronicity) and having just started QiGong, the first exercise I am learning is called ‘Butterfly Dancing in Front of Flowers’ and is all about opening your heart to the universal energy – what a great time and place to start this journey!

What are your thoughts on this?  Was this obvious to you all along or has it made you think?  Do you have other ideas on the way healing (and energy) works?  Get involved below!!

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