Pertaining to the Craft Tarot Death EMail Home

In my present mixed state of (1) spiritual enlightenment and (2) spiritual ignorance, this is what I believe.
The Earth
Satan and Satanism
The Bible God
Gods and Goddesses
My Unbeliefs
Solitary vs. Coven
Witches and Nature
Becoming a Witch
The Focal Point
A Nature-Based Religion
The Term "Pagan"
An Ancient Religion?
The Elements/
Pagan Quotations

You can search for a word or phrase on this page with the "Ctrl-F" function.

The biggest impediment to your study of magick is not what you don't know, but what you know.

        "One thing you'll notice is how fuzzy and indistinct the spirit world is.   The same beings may be portrayed as mighty gods in one story and as mere nature spirits in the next.   Great heroes and ancestors can sometimes cross the line and be treated as gods.   Sometimes the line separating goddesses and gods from ancestors, heroes, and nature spirits can be very thin and blurry.   Don't worry about such imprecision, even if you are by nature a stickler for details.   Remember that the otherworld is a realm of poetry and myth, not science and technology."

—   from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Paganism by Carl McColman (Alpha Press 2002).

        This page contains my views about Witchcraft, Wicca, and the Goddess. It is based on years of study and practice. I acknowledge that there are other views about these topics that are different from mine. I acknowledge that I am not absolutely right about everything. PLEASE don't write to me to tell me that I'm wrong about something. PLEASE don't ask me to prove some assertion that you find here, unless you want to finance a trip for the two of us to go do some archaeological digging in Ireland. If you want to write to tell me your views, that's great. But don't write to me to tell me that I'm "wrong." You don't "own" witchcraft. Nobody does.

These are my ideas, based on (1) study and (2) practice.   I am a "solitary" Witch (sometimes referred to as a "hedge Witch"); I do not formally belong to any coven.   I am also "eclectic," which means that I pick and choose from among traditions and synthesize a path that is unique to me.

Although, technically, with each step we take, we create a new path that's all our own.

I'm tempted to start off by saying what a Witch is not.   That type of diatribe, which you will see on many Pagan websites, criticizes television shows like "Bewitched," "Charmed," and "Sabrina."   I've never been able to make beams of magick light shoot out of my fingertips, or freeze a person in mid-air by speaking magick words (or by wiggling my nose).   You'll never be able to do that either.


The truth is that any aspect of life that's featured in movies and TV shows is much duller when you see it in real life.   For instance, most policemen never actually shoot anybody, never see a car blow up, and never go undercover; but if you watch cop shows on TV, you'll get the impression that they do it every day.

It's the same with Witchcraft.   We all want our lives to be filled with special effects.   Flashes of magickal thunder, levitations, demons, right before our eyes.   That's what we see in the movies.   But movies are made for entertainment, not for education.

Witches are different, and not just because we celebrate the Goddess and the Horned God under the full moon. A Witch lives in a world apart from mainstream consciousness; he thinks and perceives and feels differently about himself and the universe.

Yet we live among people who have beliefs and rules that are unlike ours. Many of us are repelled by a culture that is separated from nature and poisons the Earth - that believes in a single god who is jealous and judgmental - a culture that worships science without understanding it, while denouncing magick as fantasy - a culture that worships money and possessions while claiming that the material world is sinful - a culture that preaches brotherly love while tolerating racism, the oppression of women, and poverty.

We believe that mainstream culture should be transformed, replaced, or jettisoned. Choosing or creating another way of life is a monumental, never-ending task. There are major challenges for those who have chosen the path of Witchcraft.

Taking Self-responsibility: A Witch takes responsibility for his actions and speech. We don't blame anyone else for the things we have done or the words we have spoken. We reject the blaming of others for difficulties in our lives. We cannot control the world, but can control ourselves. We must take responsibility for our self-care, our choices, and the way we live.

Living with Nature: Witches recognize that we are part of nature, which is the incarnate body of the Goddess. Everything is sacred - plants, animals, rocks, other living things, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the earth on which we stand. Therefore, to live in a sacred manner, we try to exist in harmony with our ecosystem and to attune the rhythms of our lives with the cycles of the seasons. Sometimes this means embracing silence, stillness, and non-action - letting things be in the natural world. Sometimes this requires that we change our habits and lifestyles in order to live more gently upon the earth. Sometimes this requires us to oppose those who would exploit or destroy species, habitats, and resources. But at all times, we seek to understand the world of which we are a part.

Facing Our Shadow Side: Witches face the negative aspects of life, both in the outside world and within ourselves. Part of this is accepting the reality of our own pain, fear, and anger, and taking responsibility for what we do with them. We enter the shadowy realm in our own minds and hearts, healing and transforming what we find there into creative energy.

Following a Different Ethic: Some people follow laws and commandments without living in the spirit from which they sprang. Some do what is right only because they fear judgment. Some believe they can escape consequences of their actions. Witches live by the Wiccan Rede: "An it harm none, do as thou wilt," which means that we do nothing that will harm ourselves or others. This is more difficult than simply following a list of rules. It requires widsom and reflection, and it requires that we cherish ourselves and all living things, as well as our fellow humans. It requires that we think.

Being Free: Freedom is more than civil rights and physical freedom. As Witches we think for ourselves, and refuse to be swayed by corporate advertising, dogmatic religions, or political ideologues. We seek emotional independence as well, free from codependency or other unhealthy relationships. We avoid addiction to anything that diminishes us. Freedom requires not only vigilance, but awareness, self-control, and determination.

Having Faith: Our faith is not in prophets or doctrine or saviors or holy books. It is faith in the universe and in ourselves. We trust that the Goddess provides, if we are willing to make an effort. We believe that the wheel is always turning: sometimes life is hard and painful, sometimes joyous, but the cycles continue and the sun rises again. We believe that the Goddess grants us freedom to find our true will, and once we commit to the path, she will open the gates to her infinite resources. We have faith that magick works when we work.

Living in a Wider Reality: Mainstream thought is based on limitation and fear. Mainstream thinkers limit their attention to the immediate physical world that can be felt and seen and heard. Few are open to the Otherworld. Witches accept a wider and deeper reality - one that is expansive, fluid, and magickal, filled with abundance and infinite possibility as well as uncertainty, paradox, and the unknown. It takes a special kind of mind to acknowledge such a reality and explore it.

Magick: Witches realize that the mastery of genuine magick takes time and effort. It requires deep self- exploration to discover one's true will and spiritual calling.

Transforming Ourselves: "She changes everything she touches." Witches embrace change instead of wanting things to stay the same. We embrace the changes in ourselves. We seek to accomplish the Great Work, which Eliphas Levi described as "the creation of man by himself, that is to say, the full and entire conquest of his faculties and his future." This is the highest purpose of magick: the goal of spiritual perfection, the mystical union of the Self and the All. This requires courage, and may not be accomplished in only one lifetime.

Uniformity of thought and belief is not a hallmark of Witches, and we thank the Goddess for our diverse, original, and independent sisters and brothers in Wicca. We learn and grow from one another.


I often use the terms Witch or Wiccan or Pagan as if they are interchangeable.   I am told that they are not.

Here's what I've been told are the definitions of "Pagan," "Witch," and "Wiccan" (there are many different ideas about the meanings of these words. I don't have strong feelings about the topic).

One writer says that "pagan" is not a religion any more than "monotheistic" is a religion.   His idea is that "pagan" refers to a type of religion.

A Pagan believes in (a) gods and goddesses or (b) a nameless nature-force that permeates everything [this is called Pantheism].

A Witch believes in, and practices, magick and spellwork.   He may not believe in the existence of any specific "named" deity or deities.

Wicca is a recently-created (ca. 1950)   —   some would say recently re-created   —   earth-centered religion that is partly based on ancient Celtic deities, symbols, and seasonal days of celebration.   I am told that it was founded by Gerald Gardner.   I am told that one cannot initiate oneself into Wicca.   I am told that in order to become a Wiccan, one must receive formal training from a Wiccan (i.e., something more than book learning).   I am told that it is more than a mere philosophy; it is a religion.   I know for a fact that it has been recognized as a religion by the United States military and the prison system.

The Earth

The earth is sacred.   Wicca is sometimes referred to (correctly) as an "earth-based religion."   We have celebrations called Sabbats which are based on the solstices and the equinoxes   -   "earth events."

Accordingly, I am an environmentalist, but in a conservative way.   I believe that the first question about a piece of land should be: Who owns it?   The owner of a thing should have the right to do with it whatever he wants, and it's none of my business (within reason) what he does with his own property.


I am tolerant of homosexuality.   I would not condone or tolerate (and have never heard of a Pagan who tolerated) rape or pedophilia.

And by the way ... let's talk for just a minute about the word "tolerate."   "Tolerate" doesn't mean that you approve of something.   It doesn't mean that you like it.   It doesn't mean (necessarily) that you sit silently and pretend to agree with it.   What it means is that you have enough respect for other people's rights that you don't ostracize or mistreat them because of what they are.   People have a right to be what they are, as long as it doesn't forcefully interfere with other people's rights.   You have the right to be a Christian, or Muslim, or Zoroastrian.   You have the right to tell me what you think of my religion.   I have the right to tell you what I think of yours (and you, of course, have the right not to listen to me).   Despite what you may have heard, America has no "official religion."   It can't; not without violating the First Amendment.

Satan and Satanism

Wiccans do not believe in the existence of Satan or hell.   Those are Christian/Moslem/Jewish concepts.   Evil comes from people's hearts, not from some guy with horns on his head (in fact, we know the horned god as Pan or Cernunnos, and he's a good guy).

My pentagram is right-side-up (one point up, two points down).   I believe that magick should be used only for positive, helpful purposes, and should never be used to harm another or to cause a person to do something against his will.   I do not practice "black magick," whatever that is.

It should be noted that modern-day Satanism does not involve the worship of "Satan" (unless it's "theistic Satanism").   In fact, modern-day mainstream Satanists don't even believe in the existence of the Christian Satan (the Bad Guy of the Bible).   Satanism is actually a form of rational self-interest.


The theory behind magick is that there are unseen forces in this world, and one can tap into them and align oneself with them so that one can help others and improve oneself.   This is really a simple concept: you do this every time you plug an electrical cord into the wall.

The great mystery of Witchcraft is HOW one taps into the Unseen Forces.   You can read many, many books about spells and incantations, and they're all different.   And some of the spells just don't work (if you don't already know this, it means you haven't done very much hands-on spellwork ... at some point, you should stop reading and start doing.   You don't want to be a virgin all your life!).

There is a theory to the effect that the natural world (phenomena such as warm sunshine, snow, rain, and sprouting plants) is a subset of "super-nature" (the supernatural).   In other words, magick is just another kind of science, a branch that we don't understand yet (there's an entire book written on this subject: The Science of the Craft by William H. Keith).

When two particles are "entangled," they are somehow connected because the fate of one depends upon the other, no matter how far apart they are.   This phenomenon is linked to the fundamental properties of matter and the nature of observing and measuring reality.   One might describe it as ... magick.

In 2005, scientists were able to cause six beryllium atoms to rotate clockwise and counterclockwise ... simultaneously.   Like magick.

Synergy means that there are no isolated systems.

Newton viewed the world as being made of objects moving, and pushing each other around (and colliding with each other) in predictable ways.   This is called "locality."   Around 1900, physicists began realizing that it is possible for a star to explode 40 million light years away and INSTANTLY affect something here on earth, even though (theoretically) nothing can travel faster than light; this is called "non- locality."   In 1935, the term "spooky action at a distance" was coined.

This, of course, violates our intuition (common sense).

Bell's Theorem (postulated in 1964 by the late physicist John S. Bell) holds that there is a connection or correlation between systems that are not causally related.   Bell thought that no physical theory of local hidden variables can ever reproduce all of the predictions of quantum mechanics.   This idea entirely contradicts an assumption that has governed science for centuries, i.e., the assumption that any given scientific law operates on only one "billiard table," and the moving balls on that "table" are affected only by the balls on that particular table.   Bell's Theorem demonstrates that there is some sort of non-local "field" (or perhaps an implicate order) that controls the balls on all the tables, even if they aren't connected to each other and aren't even in the same house.

Bell's Theorem has been expressed thus:   "Reality must be non-local."

Appearance is the facts of experience, both inner and outer.   Reality is the hidden causes behind these Appearances.   Theory is the stories we tell one another about both Appearance and Reality.

My own Theory:   Magick is the hidden cause behind the Appearances.   This explains how maybe, just maybe, if I turn off the lights one evening and light some candles and say some words, it can affect something that happens 180 miles away.

I believe that what we call magick is really a form of nature that we don't yet understand.

Magick sometimes works for me, though not in the way that I expect.   The Goddess seems to have a sense of humor, a mischievous side.   One writer says that magick works by making everything fall apart.

Doing your spellwork carefully and precisely is (probably) important, and saying the words the right way is (probably) important, but the bottom line is:

The magick isn't in the tools.

The magick isn't in the words.

The magick isn't in the candles
or the incense
or the paraphernalia.

Part of your journey of self-discovery as you follow The Path is finding where the magick is.

The Bible God

There are aspects of Christianity that some people find troubling.

Christianity tells us that God is love (I John 4:8), yet God created a lake of fire where people are tortured for all eternity.   And most people will go to hell, we are told; Jesus said that the way to [eternal] life is narrow, and few people find it [Matt. 7:13-14].

There are two religions (among the thousands of religions in the world) that have this "fear factor," i.e., the threat of an eternity in hell: Christianity and Islam.   Interestingly enough, Judaism doesn't have a fiery hell; you can read the entire Old Testament, and there's not a description (of any kind) of hell (or of heaven).   The word "hell" is found in the Old Testament, but it simply refers to the place where dead people go   —   a pit or a grave.

Christians act as if their God is some kind of Cosmic Care Bear.   Yet the Bible records an incident where God murdered a newborn infant to punish the child's parents (II Samuel 12:13-14).

The Bible also records an instance where God ordered a man to murder his own son (Genesis 22). The very first time that the Bible uses the word "love" is when God says, "Take your son, your only son, whom you love - Isaac - and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you."

And something else that's particularly troubling: Imagine that you were to write down two numbers, one of which represented (1) the total number of people who have been murdered   —   in the name of Jesus   —   by professing Christians in the last 2,000 years, and another number which represented (2) the total number of people who have been murdered in the name of Satan by professing Satanists in the last 2,000 years.

Which number would be higher?

Total number of people who have been killed in the past 2,000 years by CHRISTIANS in the name of Christ (the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Witch Hunts) ...
Total number of people who have been killed in the past 2,000 years by SATANISTS in the name of Satan ...
Total number of people who have been killed in the past 2,000 years by WICCANS and PAGANS in the name of their religion ...

There is a long history (dating back to the middle of the Fourth Century C.E., when Christians stopped being the persecuted religion and began to have political power) of Christians telling horrible lies about Witches (and Jews).   It is because of the false propaganda that the Christians have spread (and are still spreading today) that many people believe that Witches are evil Satan-worshippers who cannibalize newborn babies and drink blood.   Interestingly enough, these are the same disgusting lies that people told about Christians during the First Century C.E.

Can one be both a Christian and a Pagan?   I believe the answer is "No."

The problem is that Christianity is based on the Bible, and the Bible says that witchcraft/sorcery is a sin   —   in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 18:10-12; Leviticus 19:26, 20:6,27) AND in the New Testament (Galatians 5:19-21).   The Christian Bible is simply anti-witch and anti-witchcraft.

Understand that this has nothing to do with the HISTORY of Christianity.   It is the very nature of Christianity (and Judaism and Islam too, for that matter) to separate itself from all other beliefs, to isolate itself, to want to stand aloof and NOT connect, NOT cooperate, NOT co-exist, NOT intermingle with other faiths (see II Cor. 6:14-17 and John 14:6, for example).

I believe that Christianity raises more questions than it answers.

* The Four Elements *
Compass Point
Tarot Suit
1.   FIRE
Energy, heat, willpower, drive, sex, passion, anger, purification.   Fire lacks the staying power of the other elements.   And it is the only element that must consume another element in order to exist.
Fire says, "Enough talk!   Let's do something NOW."
2.   WATER
Love, friendship, intuition (your "non-intellectual smarts"), empathy, sensitivity, fertility, mystery.
Water says, "Yes, I know how you feel."
3.   EARTH
Endurance, responsibility, wisdom, growth, abundance, healing.   It represents the womb AND the grave.
Earth says, "Let's approach this on a long-term basis, and make sure we make the best choice."   Think of it in terms of being "grounded."
4.   AIR
Intelligence. Creativity. Ideas. Brainwork.
Air says, "I think I have this figured out."

Gods and Goddesses

I have my own "favorite" deities.   There are many Pagan deities to choose from and, like most Witches, I've picked out a few "main deities" to call my own.   They are somewhat of a mixed bag:

*Isis (Egyptian)

* Cernunnos (Celtic; known as "Herne the Hunter" in England)
NOTE: One author says that "Cernunnos" is the Roman name for this Celtic God, and that his original Celtic name has been lost)

* Nathor (Egyptian)

* Cerridwyn (Welsh)

(NOTE: Silver RavenWolf says [To Ride a Silver Broomstick, page 46] that one should not mix deities from different cultures. I do it anyway.)

I believe in the existence of other deities, and I won't start an argument with you if you've specially selected some that I didn't.   It's just that I've adopted these four   —   or maybe they've adopted me.   I feel like I belong to them.

I usually call the Lord "Cernunnos" (some other names for the Lord are Pan, Herne, Osiris or Thoth   —   many Witches don't put a great deal of emphasis on the male aspect of deity) and may simply refer to the Lady as "Goddess."   Traditionally, the Lord, or the male aspect of the divine, represents the hunter; the Lady, the female aspect, who is (in many traditions) considered to be more important, represents fertility, birth, rebirth, motherhood, agriculture, and nurturing.   So between the two of them, they covered all the bases of primitive pre-technological life: birth, crops, and hunting.   The emphasis on a single patriarchal god is a recent development in history (going back only a few thousand years), and coincides with the rise of patriarchal societies.   To put it another way, they made God in their own image.

"My" deities represent, I believe, the ways in which the Lord and Lady have revealed themselves to me.

I do not "worship" my deities, although I do deeply honor them.   I do not kneel before them; I do not begin my prayers by saying, "O Lord and Lady, I am unworthy to approach you ..."   I do not grovel before them.   I think of my deities as good friends   —   powerful friends, but friends nonetheless.   They respect me as a person, and (fortunately!) they do not demand perfection from me.

Remember that the true nature of Deity is beyond all images, words, names, and concepts.   One Pagan author refers to Deity as "That Which Runs the Universe."   Accordingly, I sometimes address Deity as TWRTU (pronounced "Tortoo").

My Unbeliefs

Some Wiccans believe in the following.   I do not believe in them:

Something about different centers being located in different parts of your body, like a coiled snake at the base of your spine, or something.
Imagine if someone attended your solemn witch's circle one night and did a sleight-of-hand magic trick, pretending that it was spellwork!   That's what J.Z. Knight (the $400-per weekend "channeler") does.   She pretends to "channel" a 35,000 year-old warrior who somehow speaks perfect English, but doesn't know a word of Latin, Greek, Sumerian, or Babylonian!

Sorry, folks. She's a fake, and I have no respect for her.
James Van Praagh
talking to the dead
He's a phony.   So is John Edwards.   Both of these fakers use a technique called "cold reading," and they carefully edit the tapes of their studio sessions before they're broadcast.

Listen for this "question:"   "Uhhhh, I'm seeing a 'J' or an 'M' ... does that mean anything to anyone, please?"

Or "I'm seeing your grandfather, and he says he loves you and he's fine. Do you understand me?"
Uri Geller
bending keys and spoons
He does stage magic (sleight of hand) and calls it "psychokinesis."   James Randi exposed him as a fake.   Another time, when Geller was on the Johnny Carson show, Johnny, who is an amateur magician, took extra precautions to prevent fakery, and Geller failed.
(Trying to locate underground water by walking around with sticks in your hands)   Every objective test of this practice under controlled conditions has shown that it simply doesn't work.   The results are no better than what you'd get by pure chance.
He never prophesied anything in his life.   He's a nutcase who spent ten years living in his mother's attic.   He wrote a bunch of gobbledygook that is so vague that it can be interpreted almost any way you want.   The way that someone "proves" that Nostradamus is a prophet is always with hindsight, that is, finding some historical event and then digging through Nostradamus' ramblings to find a "match."   No one has EVER successfully predicted anything from what he wrote.
Something about the letters in a person's name standing for numbers, and then you add the numbers up, and then you add up the digits in that number ...   Sounds like it was dreamed up by some junior high school girls at a summer camp.
Ley lines
Supposedly there are "power points" on the earth, such as the site of Stonehenge, and they are aligned with each other in some sort of grid pattern.   I don't believe it.
Therapeutic touch
It's fake.   It was debunked years ago by a nine-year-old girl named Emily Rosa.

I should point out that in all of my studying and reading about Wicca and Witchcraft, I have rarely found a writer who is skeptical about anything.   You get the impression that one of the requirements for being a Witch is that you believe 100% of the New Age stuff ... including all manner of cryptozoology (Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, Ogopogo, Chupacabra) and alien abductions.

Nothing in Wicca or Neo-Paganism requires us to stop using our critical faculties.


There's nothing supernatural about it.   Yes, the temperature of the coals is over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.   But when you walk over the coals unharmed, it doesn't mean that your bare feet were protected by the gods or by some psychic energy.

The "secret" is a simple principal of physics called heat conductivity.   Try this experiment:

1.   Bake a cake, using a heavy glass cake pan.   When the cake is done, the temperature inside the oven will be 350-400 degrees ... very hot.

2.   Open the oven and touch the cake pan (no pot holders allowed).   You'll burn your hand.   The temperature of the glass cake pan is 350 degrees.

3.   With the oven door still open, stick your hand inside (the unburned hand); don't touch anything.   The temperature of the air in the oven, that is, the air surrounding your hand, is also 350 degrees.   Why isn't your hand burned now (that is, burned by the 350-degree air)?

Because the GLASS PAN conducts heat much better than the AIR does.

Those hot coals that the barefoot folks are walking on are very poor conductors of heat.   As long as you walk at a brisk pace, you won't get burned.   It has nothing to do with spirits, or chanting, or mind control, or self-confidence.


I think it's possible that demons are just spirits that we haven't gotten to know well.   And what people refer to as "angels" may actually be ordinary spirit guides.   Silver RavenWolf says flatly that demons don't exist.

Yes, I know that the long version of the Wiccan Rede says, "Cast the circle thrice about/To keep the evil spirits out."   But that's poetry, not theology.


The Wiccan system of morality is, basically:   "An [an Elizabethan English word meaning "if" that comes from the Greek preposition ean] it harm none, do as thou wilt."

The expression is not "AND it harm none," which doesn't make any sense.

Nor is it "AN' it harm none."   The apostrophe is not needed.

Most Wiccans also believe in the Rule of Three: Whatever you do (good or bad) comes back to you threefold.

The bottom line is that I seek the Goddess within and make moral decisions intuitively.

Morality is more complex than a set of rules that are written down somewhere.   It involves decisions about overall wellbeing balanced against individual rights.

Solitary vs. Coven

The author of Paganism: an Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions says that about 50% of all Pagans/Wiccans/Witches are solitary practitioners.   Some of us do not join groups or "covens" because (1) it may be hard to find a coven and (2) covens can be riddled with power struggles and jealousy.   We believe that self-study (reading books) and personal practice (spell-casting, circle- casting) are a perfectly legitimate way to have access to ancient (and sometimes not-so-ancient) wisdom.   Or, in the alternative, a solitary may teach another solitary, one on one.

And I hate to say this, but some covens will put out literature that invites you to come to their public events, and when you show up, they make you feel like a red-headed stepchild at a family reunion.   The truth is that they're perfectly happy with the fifty or so members they already have, and they won't make any real effort to embrace and accept a newcomer.

I'm intuitive.   Remember that we humans had intuition thousands of years before we had science and logic.   If you make me feel like an outsider, it means I'm an outsider.

Witches and Nature

Wicca/Paganism contains the belief that we all possess a kind of inner knowledge that we often fail to tap into (some of us have more than others).   We humans have become so civilized, so dependent on technology, that we lose touch with the inner power that belongs to us.   It is the same power that fuels the great engine of nature.

We sometimes speak of communing with nature.   The truth is that we are nature.

Becoming a Witch

A Pagan often conducts his initiation ceremony alone.   I did.

Or one Pagan may initiate another, just the two of them, alone.   The initiation ritual symbolizes a death to the old self and a new birth.   The ceremony may involve the initiate taking a magickal name for himself (Phoenix, Silvermoon, Ariadne, Cernunnos, Amber, Gazelle).   My magickal name is Pendragon.

A person who deliberately realigns his consciousness with nature and the earth may feel a kinship with the animals and the trees.   He may look into the eyes of a cat and sense its thoughts and feelings.   He may shift his focus from the physical aspects of life to the underlying spiritual meaning.

All of life can be a participation in cosmic harmony.

There are many Pagan "mysteries," and some of them cannot be explained in words; they must be experienced.   One must "tune into a wavelength that does not broadcast in words."

Remember when you were a child, and you first heard about spells and magick?   You had no trouble believing that the stories were true, and that YOU could do magick, if only you knew the right way to do it, if you only had the KEY.   And ... I hate to be Zen about this ... but the key is that there is no key.   Don't ask me to explain this (Zen is, I think, a word that means "I can get away with just saying it, without having to explain it").

      Your old Belief System ("BS") is your own personal version of things, stuff (baggage) that you've spent your entire life collecting.   If you are fully "non-attached" in the Buddhistic sense, then you are enlightened, and you have no limits.   But if you are only mostly there, still partly on your old familiar (and comfortable) path, then you have concepts in your brain that contradict (and limit) the possibility of the fantastic stuff that's promised by Magick ... and by life itself.

A Focal Point

You may want to set up a shrine of sorts in your house   —   a statue, or a bowl of special stones or runes   —   which will act as a focal point for the Family Protectors, the unseen benevolent spirits that guard each home.

Origins of a Nature-Based Religion

There were natural phenomena that primitive man observed but could not explain.   They caused him to him believe that gods or goddesses MUST exist:

        1.   The cycles of nature (seasons)
        2.   The cycle of day and night
        3.   Weather
        4.   Pregnancy and birth
        5.   Agriculture and the growing season

In other words, primitive man discerned the nature of the God and Goddess from the way the deities conducted ... nature.   Ours is an intuitive religion.

Imagine that you have a vehicle that can traverse any terrain ... mountains, deserts, canyons, even the oceans.   One day, you pack a few sandwiches and fill your ice chest with diet Dr. Pepper, and you take off, driving in a straight line.

You drive for days, and weeks, always in a straight line.   After about a month, having circled the entire planet, you arrive back at your starting point ... the place where you began.

Have you actually traveled?   Well ... yes.   And no.

We perceive events ... time ... as happening in a straight line.   But Nature always moves in a circle ... planetary orbits, the phases of the moon, the ebb and flow of the tides.
The stars in their courses have no destination.
The train of events will arrive at no station.
The inmost and utmost Self of us all
Is dancing on nothing, and having a ball.

The Term "Pagan"

A "pagan" is technically "somebody who lives in a small village (as opposed to a big-city dweller)."   This term came to be used to designate a religion because the hierarchical, structured, authoritarian religions of ancient times were always based in the cities (Rome for the Catholics, or Jerusalem for the Jews).   It was the "village people" (now THAT would be a good name for a coven), the farmers and shepherds, who were more connected to the land, who based their religion on nature; the city-dwellers, with their institutionalized religions, had official writings (the Torah, for instance) and a priesthood.

Aspects of an organized hierarchical religion:

1.   Jealousy of other religions and a competitive attitude toward them.
            (Christians today use the expression "spiritual warfare" [Eph. 6:12])
2.   A willingness to persecute or kill non-believers.
3.   An official book of doctrine that contains a detailed moral code.
4.   Afterlife punishment (some version of hell) for moral disobedience.
5.   A priesthood and a central authority.
6.   Few gods, or only one.
7.   Special buildings that are used only for worship (temples, cathedrals).
8.   The accumulation of money by the priests.
9.   A cozy relationship with political authorities.

Aspects of a pagan religion:

1.   Centered around observable natural phenomena.
2.   No central authority.
3.   No priesthood as such, although some members are held in higher esteem than others (the healers and shamans).
4.   (Generally) no writings   —   only oral traditions.
5.   Tolerance toward "non-believers" (i.e., other religions).
6.   A moral code based on a few simple principles such as not harming others.

"[M]onotheism turned out to inspire a ferocity and even a fanaticisim that are mostly absent from polytheism.   At the heart of polytheism is an open-minded and easygoing approach to religious belief and practice ... The core value of paganism was religious tolerance   —   a man or woman in ancient Rome was at liberty to offer worship to whatever god or goddess seemed most likely to grant a prayerful request, with or without the assistance of priests and priestesses ... Polytheists, as we have seen, were not inclined to dictate to others how and to whom prayer and sacrifice should be offered.   They were perfectly willing to mix and match gods and goddesses, rituals and beliefs, and they sought the divine favor of many different deities at once. ... The very first use of the word 'zeal' in the Bible is to describe God's approval of an act of murder, one Israelite murdering another Israelite and his Midianite lover [Numbers 25:11]."
God Against the Gods   by Jonathan Kirsch, Viking Compass Books (2004).

                        Is Wicca/Paganism/the Craft an Ancient Religion With a Long Line of Succession?

All of us want to feel like we're a part of something large and ancient and traditional.

For example, some of us served a few years in the military.   There's a special, almost spiritual feeling you get when you find yourself in formation on the parade field early one morning, a row of barracks in the background behind you, and you're standing tall with a hundred other soldiers dressed in the same uniform you're wearing, and you realize that you're a part of a very old tradition that includes Douglas MacArthur, George Washington, Audie Murphy, and Dwight Eisenhower.   It's awe-inspiring.   Your job in the Army may be "assistant personnel clerk," but if the balloon goes up and America goes to war, you'll be put on the front lines with an M-16, and you'll be expected to risk your life for your country.   In other words, you're somebody special.

Are we, as witches, part of a long line, part of an ancient tradition?   Some writers would say no.   They say that the modern Neo-Pagan movement started with Gerald Gardner, Raymond Buckland, Doreen Valiente, and Stewart Farrar in the 1950's, and was taken up by the Dianic/feminist Wiccans in the 1970's, but has no real "history" going back any farther than that.   They will point out that the "13 Goals of a Witch" and the "Charge of the Goddess" are only about 60 years old.

Because witches were (until relatively recently) persecuted, we don't have any accurate records of what the ancient witches (assuming that there were any at all, and assuming that we could come up with a good definition of "ancient witch") actually did.   There was a long period of history when, if you wrote anything about Witchcraft, you had to write something critical, whether it was true or not; if you made people believe that you were sympathetic toward witchcraft, you'd get into big trouble (there were a few exceptions).   Therefore, most of the books we have about ancient Witchcraft   —   just about anything written prior to 1900   —   are (a) negative and (b) unreliable.

Perhaps the better question is: Should we even desire to connect with ancient Pagan peoples?   Is their way of reaching out to the Goddess (or whatever they reached out to) and communing with her any better than what we could come up with today?

I settled this question in my own mind long ago.   If I read something that convinces me that a certain practice in Witchcraft is "traditional," I will almost certainly incorporate it into my Path.   I do desire a spiritual connection with the past.   And I do believe that I am (spiritually, at least) very much like any one of the short, hairy-faced men who helped set up the very last trilithon at Stonehenge thousands of years ago.

The wise old man said to his apprentice, "You are ready now.   Go.   Follow the path."

"Which path?" asked the apprentice.

"Your path, which is not my path."

The following are passages from Herman Hesse's existential novel Demian which recounts the tale of a young man's struggle with his inner self:

"We always define the limits of our personality too narrowly.   In general, we count as part of our personality only that which we can recognize as being an individual trait or as diverging from the norm.   But we consist of everything the world consists of, each of us, and just as our body contains the genealogical table of evolution as far back as the fish and even much further, so we bear everything in our soul that once was alive in the soul of men.   Every god and devil that ever existed, be it among the Greeks, Chinese, or Zulus, is within us, exists as latent possibilities, as wishes, as alternatives.   If the human race were to vanish from the face of the earth save for one halfway talented child that had received no education, this child would rediscover the entire process of evolution.   It would be capable of producing everything once more, gods and demons, paradises, commandments, the Old and New Testament."

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"The things we see are the same things that are within us.   There is no reality except the one contained within us.   That is why so many people live such an unreal life.   They take the images outside them for reality and never allow the world within to assert itself.   You can be happy that way.   But once you know the other interpretation you no longer have the choice of following the crowd.   Sinclair, the majority's path is an easy one; ours is difficult."

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"Love must not entreat or demand.   Love must have the strength to become certain within itself.   Then it ceases merely to be attracted and begins to attract."

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"Only the ideas that we actually live are of any value."

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