Do Witches Worship the Devil? 

​Now it’s time to address one of the most cliché and tired questions ever directed towards a modern day Witch/Pagan. Do You Worship the Devil? Sometimes it is asked in a tounge in cheek kind of way because, let’s face it, some Pagans seriously overreact to the question and as Alfred from Batman said “some people just want to watch the world burn”. 

The Devil - Artist Unknown

The Devil – Artist Unknown

Sadly it is sometimes asked in a very serious way because there are still people (read Christians) who are still caught up in the Witchcraft hysteria of earlier times. It is difficult to put into words why this is. Fear of the unknown is a great driving force. If it is not explained in the teachings at hand or appear to be taboo for some reason then it is the work of an agency other than God or his Son Jesus ergo it is the work of the Devil.  

At the core of this stands Exodus 22:18 which reads as ” Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” in the most commonly avalible format the King James Bible. Even if the alternative translation of Sorcerer/ess  s used, side stepping the absolute obsession that James I had with Witches, the text is both clear and obscure at the same time. Exodus make numerous references to the sorcery of Moses and Aaron but this is considered acceptable because these powers come from God. The kashaph, or sorcery, of Exodus 22:18 is of muttered words and incantations; actions learnt through other means beyond the intervention of God Most High and therefore it is baaaaad! 

Like many things from the Bible Evangelicals and Christian Fundamentalist take these passages and use them as the foundation of their beliefs and behaviour. You would think this something confined to the 16th century but it is very much alive today. A Pastor performing healing in Church is an agent of God, a practitioner of Reiki on the other hand is an agent of the Devil. 

But why the Devil and who is he? Is he an equal to God; the Adversary and Enemy of God? Or is he a fallen Angel; the accuser and questioner of creation? Are they one in the same or different entities entirely? Is the identity and apperance of the Devil set out and clarified from the start or did it evolve over time? Is there a connection between the Devil and modern paganism today? 
Devil, Lucifer or Satan; what’s in a name?  

Let’s break some names down. 

Devil : from Greek: διάβολος or diábolos slanderer or accuser. Root διά- (diá-) “across, through” + βάλλειν (bállein) “to hurl”. According to Christianity and Islam, the primary Adversary of God.

The Devil is also interchangeably referred to as;

Satan : Hebrew: שָּׂטָן‎‎ satan, meaning “enemy” or “adversary”; Arabic: شيطان‎‎ shaitan, meaning; “astray”, “distant”, or sometimes “devil”) is a figure appearing in the texts of the Abrahamic religions who brings evil and temptation, and is known as the deceiver who leads humanity astray.

And

Lucifer : /ˈluːsɪfər/; loo-sif-ər is the King James Version rendering of the Hebrew word הֵילֵל in Isaiah 14:12. This word, transliterated hêlêl or heylel, occurs once in the Hebrew Bible and according to the KJV-based Strong’s Concordance means “shining one, light-bearer”. The Septuagint renders הֵילֵל in Greek as ωσφόρος (heōsphoros), a name meaning literally “bringer of dawn”, for the morning star. The word Lucifer is taken from the Latin Vulgate, which translates הֵילֵל as lucifer, meaning “the morning star, the planet Venus”, or, as an adjective, “light-bringing”.

Let’s get a feel for who we are talking about here. The Devil is the Adversary of God and His Son Jesus. They are, according to religious texts, in tension over the nature of creation and the nature of Man. The repeated theme in this conflict is the attempt to influence and control the actions of Man. To be under the influence of God is to live the just, pious and pure life as defined in the holy texts. To Live in a way at odds or in opposition to these texts is to be under the influence of the Devil. 

The Devil is first identified in the Book of Genesis as the Deceiver, leading Eve into temptation and encouraging her to enjoin Adam to do the same. In these passages the Devil is presented as a serpent, either a snake or dragon. In later texts, such as Isaiah, the writers begin to identify him as being a fallen Angel but retain the serpentine language to enhance his image as a Deceiver. 

The Devil of the Gigas Codex

The Devil of the Gigas Codex

Which God’s were used to give him Form?

The mental image we have of the Devil is pretty much Universal. Firstly the Devil is male, almost universally so. He may appear as a female and have female agents but The Devil, with capitals T & D is always, always depicted as male. Secondly he is shown  with horns and/or as half man half beast (usually goat) or in some other hybrid human form. The ‘animal’ aspects represent his sexuality and his lack of civility; he pretends to be human but isn’t quite right. Finally he is shown holding a pitchfork, the instrument he uses to torture the souls of the dead in the bowls if the earth.

Is anything starting to sound familiar? If you are familiar with Greek and Roman mythologies it should. This image of the Devil is a composite of a number of pre-Christian deities , notibly  Pan and Hades. As early Christian Theologians sought to reflect the nemesis of God for early concerts unable to access the Bible directly they reached out to the cultures that surrounded them. It gave the listener something to draw from which they could understand whilst also turning them away from any polytheistic faith they may have had before. As Pagans we look to the ancient, pre Christian God’s, particularly horned God’s and Goddesses. Given that early Christianity spent a lot of time and energy blacking the names, images and concepts of those Gods that they couldn’t assimilate it is not surprising that those modern Believers who seek a pure form of Christianity feel the same way.


When He Comes For Us

For all this The Devil will always appear in a form most tempting to you.  As Jenkins said to Ezekiel Jones;

“[Think] Katy Perry, wearing the Crown Jewels, holding a wad of cash, with an unnatural attraction to young Aussie boys.”

He is hidden within a form which is pleasing to the eye; he’s a convincing conversationalist and able to compel you to actions forbidden by God as part of their never ending contest over Man and Creation. This is one reason why Christians feel able to condemned even the most benign seeming practices. Take crystal healing as an example; I think even Christians will appreciate the beauty of crystals and their formation but their use as a tool of energy healing will be anathema for some. The concept of the stones containing energy, or interacting with the bodies of the patient and practitioner is completely at odds with the idea that God is the sole source of healing miracles. To them you are influenced by the Devil. Lead astray by him, or his agents, in the form of books, retailers and other practitioners. 

This mindset gets applied again and again to all sorts of subjects  Ouija,  tarot,  Reiki, spells casting… The list is seemingly endless when you start looking beyond the scope of modern paganism and into modern society. Anything that is ‘good’ comes from God; anything that is ‘bad’ comes from the Devil. Verse after tenuous verse, with all the varying interpretations and translations, get trotted out in order to help define exactly what ‘bad’ is, with allowances made for acts done in God’s name and grace. 
Pagans and the Devil

I cannot stress this enough. 

Witches do not worship or acknowledge the Devil in any shape or form.

The Devil is the Adversary entity of Christianity. His form, concept and behaviour are solely there for those who practices Christianity. Whilst I won’t go to the extent of some Pagans and disrespect their beliefs by denounceing him as ‘made up’ he can have no impact or meaning to me as I am a Pagan. To me he is an interesting figure in a religion I do not practice and therefore has no power over me. The mentality that ‘my God is so great that he has power over everyone’ is a opressive mentality unique (in my opinion) to Abrahamic religions. They are entitled to that mentality, but they can keep it. As much as they shout it is as effective as a far in a windstorm.

Many pre Christian pantheons have their Adversary deities, beings that are in conflict with the Supreme deity of that culture  or who are seen as opposite in some way. Loki, Hades, Veles; as cultures were Christianised these deities were likened to, or even assimilated into, the image of, the Devil for a variety of purposes. The difference is that unlike the Devil they are not an enemy to over come, they are an intrinsic part of the balance of Creation. They have their purpose and place both in life and in the Craft. 

Although many New Age and neo-Pagan streams attempt to sanitise Witchcraft  it is important to remember that there are entities and deities who, by the standards of modern society, may appear diabolical and ‘evil’ and that this is no bad thing. These figures does not possess the same interpretation historically as they do today and; just as the darkness doesn’t go away because we ignore it,  acknowledging it will not destroy your soul. There are many instances where working with such God’s is a benifit, one major one being the insight into ourselves, psrticularly the shadow self that is so easy to repress and ignore. 

This shadow-self scares , with it’s desires and apparently self-destructive nature. It is intimidating to many but failing to acknowledge it is even more destructive. By working with such deities the shafow-self can be confronted, as can the patterns that result from it and drive it, and this can be benificial to personal development as well as our Craft. That is not to say such work is without risk, it is very easy to loose control and descend into the Shadows and allow them to take control. Always seek advice and support when under taking such work. 

“Ciampate del Diavolo” the Devils Footprints; Tora e Piccilli (CE) Italy

The Devil and Satanism

I’ve highlighted Satanism from time to time and Satanism is another term that gets throw around by Evangelicals. To them Satanism is found in ideological opposition to the Christian Church and the terms had been applied from everything from the Knights Templar and the Cathars and even to sexual abuse scandals. In all cases there has been no evidence of actual Satanic ritual, that is veneration of the Christian Devil where Christian beliefs are held. In fact in the case of the modern Satanic movement there is no connection with Christianity at all, rather they embrace the Hebrew root of the word “Satan” as “adversary” and view themselves as bring in oposition to the Christian Church whilst being completely removed from it. Satanists view Satan as a positive archetype who represents pride, individualism, and enlightenment. The movement uses Satan as a symbol of defiance against the Abrahamic faiths which LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan  criticized for what he saw as the suppression of humanity’s natural instincts. The Church of Satan is incredibly principled, despite the charges often laid against them, and their ethos is firmly laid out in The Eleven Satanic Rules of the EarthThe Nine Satanic Statements and The Nine Satanic Sins  Whilst they are ideologically opposed to Christianity and openly criticize aspects of the Church, including the acceptance of information and wisdom at face value, pretention and herd conformity, they are not evil in any sense.
Fighting Fear With Fact

Whilst it is almost certain that at some point the seeker will be confronted by someone’s fear and ignorance regarding witchcraft, or find themselves at the butt of someone’s jokes, it is important that respond in constructive, even helpful, manner. Flaring up in anger and disgust will resolve very little, where as calm discourse will normally reveal those who are genuinely confused and those who are blinded by hate.

There is enough information here to begin to develop a calm rebuttal of the accusation but there is more that you could research such as;

  • The origin and identity of the Devil
  • The true history of the Witch Trials
  • Aspects of your Practice 
  • Diversity of Paths

There are may be times where you will want to filter your information, or gloss over certain subjects. There is no harm in doing this but you may find your listener suspicious if it is not done smoothly. This is one of the reasons it is important to be firm in your knowledge about your own practices and ways that you may be able relay the information in a clear and relevant way. Discernment comes into play here. You will know who you are talking to and what they will be able to identify with and subjects which may crate even more confusion.

Give facts, for the love of the Holies avoid the fluff, and more importantly remain calm. It may not work but at least you tried. 
Images 

The Devil – Artist Unknown

The Devil of the Gigas Codex 

“Ciampate del Diavolo”, the Devils Footprints; Tora e Piccilli (CE) Italy

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Are there many charlatans amongst Witches? 

​Last week we were talking about whether or not Witches make money, this week’s question asks about charlatans within Witchcraft. As I hinted at last week for every honest and talented individual there is someone out there looking to make a quick buck and they are not afraid of hurting people as they do it. 

The Charlatan

The Charlatan


Etsy and Selling of Services

In 2015 Etsy made a few waves in the Pagan Community by clarifying it’s terms of service to expressly spell out its rules around the sale of metaphysical services. Their terms now read to prohibit the sale of … 

” Any metaphysical service that promises or suggests it will effect a physical change (e.g., weight loss) or other outcome (e.g., love, revenge) is not allowed, even if it delivers a tangible item.”

Simply put, sellers on Etsy could not sell their services or sell kits for people to buy and use themselves. Even though the clarification was specifically aimed at metaphysical practices the rules had always existed. Etsy, through a spokes person went on to state that they seek to…

“protect our community from business practices that prey upon vulnerable and desperate shoppers—such as those seeking a treatment for cancer or infertility, or those with self-esteem issues who are seeking a spell for weight loss or beauty enhancement (think penis or breast enlargement).”

How many private websites out there are offing these kinds of spells and services? Penis and breast enlargement are the bread and butter of these sites, with in/fertility spells being close behind, but increasingly there are people out there offering  alternative cancer treatments and healing rituals and spells for conditions which are simply heartrending for those living with them.

I refuse to give these people the publicity and offer links to any of the statements I’ve made above. Google is your researcher and friend.

The opening line of Etsy’s statement reveals the nub of the issue; “to protect our community from business practices that prey upon vulnerable and desperate shoppers.” 

These people are sharks. They are con-men, and women, who care nothing for their victims no matter what their services / product blurb may claim. They seek to take advantage of the low self esteem generated by so many industries and institutions in modern society. Those unscrupulous few give a bad name to us all and as such online retailers like Etsy and eBay do not allow the sale of spells in service or kit. This can make it harder for people who maybe feel unsure or feel issolated from esoteric shops in real life to source the materials for their Craft. 

There are a multitude of private business that operate their own website which offer spells and services who are genuine and offer services and products at a fair price but there may be risks. Taking recommendations, trusting your instincts and allowing your rational mind to take the lead should provide some protect. 
Top Tips For Buying Spells and Services

 1.  The best spell cast is one you cast yourself. A seeker needs to dip their toe in the water at some point and what better time than with ‘that thing’ you have considered paying someone else to do. Even if you have no desire to become a Witch yourself it is advisable to research the basics of Witchcraft and neo-Panagism so that you have an understanding of what you are buying and whether or not you may be able to do it for yourself. 
 2. It’s okay to buy kits. I expect everyone has at some stage. They are a great way to learn more about the mechanics of Witchcraft. The downside is you are relaying on the correspondences in the kit to match your purpose. For example the words and actions may be off or the components too generic for your purpose and there is no harm in making changes and substitutions but eventually you will feel confident enough to assemble your own spells from scratch. (Link to create your own spells post).

 

 3. If you do decide to buy a kit then buyer beware. Paying top dollar for something doesn’t make it more effective not mean it actually contains the highest quality ingredients. You should also be looking for ingredients lists. Sellers will hold information back to protect their methods but often they list herbs and pictures usually allow you to identify crystals and candle colours. Price up buying these items yourself remembering that you may be buying in bulk, giving you a stock for future spells, whereas they will only provide you a pinch. It’s not as possible to do the same in person at a MBS fair but here you can look for the effort element of the kit which is a bit more of a gamble in the online purchase. Handmade elements will bump up prices but be mindful that you may be able to make your own version, adding to its power and meaning. 

 

 4. Even if you decide to have someone cast a spell on your behalf look at what they are charging you. Reimbursement for time, materials and energy is to be expected but when things start running into double and triple figures it may be time to ask some pointed questions. As said above, paying high prices doesn’t ensure high quality by any stretch. 
 5. If you’ve done some research don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you are buying a service you should know what exactly is being done on your behalf, of you are buying a kit clarification never hurts, especially if you are learning. The response you get will be very telling. The seller should offer some information and guidance, though remember they will hold on to information to protect their product. A helpful seller is more likely to be a genuine seller. If you get blown off with variants of ‘because I say so’ or ‘this is a spell my great great grandma gave me’ take it as an alarm bell that the seller either has no idea what they are doing or are simply trying to bamboozle you in order to part you from your money.
 6. Recommendations and feedback from other customers is a good indicator as well. Although a seller using a private website it likely to avoid listing negative comments the total absence of any feedback it not necessarily a good thing either. Ask in your local community where others buy from and there are lots of sale and interest groups on Facebook where you can ask similar questions. 
Initiation and Training

So far I have only talked about spells and rites but initiation and training are another two areas where some people seek to make money hand over fist at the expense of the seeker. Firstly it should be made clear that initiation is first and foremost a spiritual transaction and secondly one of gnosis  (knowledge). You are initiated into a spiritual collective and shared egregore before that you receive the knowledge that is associated with both. It is *not* a financial transaction. Whilst training may come with associated costs they should be reflect in the quality materials but the initiation itself shouldn’t. Additionally whilst training can be conducted from a distance I do not believe that initiation can occur in that way. 

Even if the distance course accurately portrayed there are still things to be wary of, in particular the quality and content of the course. You would hope that people offering such a course would provide original and well presented material in good time but the sad fact of charlatans is that this would not be the case. I am aware of instances where training and associated material has been offered at high cost yet when (and if!) it has been provided is has turned out to be photocopies of published books, articles copied and pasted from the Internet and various other forms of low grade material. Putting as side for a moment the issue of plagiarism; receiving such things after paying tens many be hundreds of pounds is hardly what would have been expected and understandably disappointing. Sadly, in each case that I am aware of the disappointed and out of pocket seeker has then been attacked and shamed by the charlatan and their followers. In one memorable example each ‘lesson’ cost 50€ and consisted of admittance into a secret Facebook group where the charlatan in question would either post a document to download consisting of plagiarised material badly stitched together or link after link after link with the instruction to read, absorb and complete a graded test after a set period of time. No guidance nor suggestions on practical application were offered. Simply put it was a cash farm, not a training circle. 
Conclusion

When you get those too good to be true phone calls, letters, emails telling you that you’ve won/inherent vast amounts of money or cam buy a particular profuct for ‘just’ this exorbitant amount you quite often react with suspicion. The skeptical mind is alerted and put into play and may protect you from being ripped off. What is true in mundane life is also true in your religious / spiritual one. Be aware, ask questions and allow yourself to be skeptical of the person talking/selling. Just because they claim a spiritual / religious title doesn’t make them any more honest than the person who has signed that email from your ‘bank’ asking for your account and pin number.

Vague Generalisations

Vague Generalisations

My Musings

It isn’t often that I will stick my head above the parapet and confront people about their products, charges and/or ethics but I’ve been known to do so from time to time. My reasons often revolve around protecting myself and others, particularly where a person, product or information is being deliberately misrepresented with the sole aim of extorting money from the vulnerable or seeker. This is is not something I apologise for, nor will I regret the outing of false psychics, fake events and highlighting their greed and abuse of their victims. Not for one moment have I regretted any of the grief that people have attempted to cause me because their efforts are wasted; I have no regret in outing them. 

On occasion I have pity. Such charlatans often construct elaborate fantasies around themselves, more often than not because they are deeply unhappy in their own lives and are in need of professional help on some level. Sadly such people are all too often facilitated by the Pagan Community, aided and abetted by inaction or the flawed belief that all Witches, Pagans, New Agers (etc) are essentially good and couldn’t possibly be guilty of anything. Social media, for example, creates a veneer of connection which is all too easily exaggerated and all too often exploited.

Unfortunately this means that when people stand up and call charlatans out for what they are they are attacked. No mattered how much objective and impartial evidence you provide a false sense of loyalty will always cause some to leap to the defence of their ‘friend’. At first it is always a mass, and sometimes it remains that way because the charlatan is skilled at bringing people into their circle, but more often followers drift away either because of weight of evidence or they tire of the erratic behaviour. And believe me they can be erratic. A charlatan builds their identity on a lie and ultimately they can trust no one because the other person a) may also be lying or b) may confront the charlatan about their lies. I have witnessed these people cannibalise their own support base through distrust and attack so many times and each time it’s sad because the charlatan displays classic traits of mental health problems,  if not addiction, and clearly receive no help or support. 

But just because I pity someone does not mean that I will enable them. It does not mean I will stand by whilst they attack me and mine and it does not mean that I  will not take action where action is due. Nature is red in tooth and claw,and this Witch has never hidden the fact she has claws. 

Again, I name no names. Naming gives a thing power, or in this case the attention they crave. Let them wonder what is being written about them in shadows of the Internet. No search for their name or pseudonym will lead them here and allow them to stroke their ego thinking they are somehow special. My work is done,  and will continue each time such charlatans raise their heads.
Images

The Charlatan

Vague Generalisations

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Do Witches Make Money? 

​When I first read this question I laughed and laughed because nearly every witch I know, including myself, is always strapped for cash. Looking deeper and forward there is serious point of debate here; should Witches sell services and should they make a profit.

Money Money Money

Money Money Money

We All Have To Live

Unless, dear reader, you are living off the grid (in which case how are you reading this?) you are a part of this Game called Life and like Monopoly a big part of the game is Money. Everything costs and we cut our coat to suit our cloth and work hard to obtain more. When we go to work we expect to be paid for our time and have the materials necessary provided without additional cost (usually anyway). As a Crafter both of Yarn and the Arte I have I have a double appreciation of being paid for my time, efforts and materials. Everything I craft costs me. 
An Example 

A ball of yarn can cost anything from £1.70, an amount which can spiral upwards depending on the brand. I’ve just started on a blanket which required about 12 balls of wool bringing the material costs alone over £20. We’re I to sell it I would want to at least recupe that cost. That doesn’t even take into account the time it takes to make it. Assuming it takes me 10 hours to finish the blanket (it will take way longer but 10 is a nice easy number) at national minimum wage that would translate to £67.00 for labour. Add materials and it comes to £87.00 for my mid quality blanket and you begin to see why people charge so much for crochet and knitted goods using best quality yarn. I sometimes gift my items, often I send them to charities I support. In these cases I ask for nothing but I am asked to make someone something I expect to have my materials reimbursed, if not a portion of my labour. 
The same thing goes for magical crafting. There are some people in this life who I will work for on the magical level totally pro bona, everyone else would be expected to pay at least something. 
Cross My Palm With Silver

The phrase I’ve chosen to run with in this section really refers to the practice of paying for fortunes from gypsy folk. As a phrase it can also refer to paying for services rendered so it can also be used in reference to paying for the services of Witches and Cunning Folk. 

The Money Changer and His Wife - Quentin Matsys 1514

The Money Changer and His Wife – Quentin Matsys 1514

The concept of paying for spells and services from the wise woman of the village is most easily seen in the Later Medieval / early Tudor era in the quiet hamlets and villages where access to ‘medical professionals’ was none existent, and quite likely extends even further back in time. Knowledge of herbs and simples was one way a woman alone could sustain herself or bring in extra food or money into for the family and if she could expand on this by offering love philters, curses, spells to find lost sheep/ items etc so much the better. The Cunning Folk were not just women; men would also offer their services to their friends and neighbours and both were as much at risk should the authorities, religious or secular, come knocking. 

In a time when life was hard, where too much rain, or sun, at the wrong time of year could mean starvation for the lower levels of society, nothing came for free. Whilst money may not have been the first option payment in trade is likely to have been more common. The Cunning woman/man was providing a service which took them time and energy to and their customers provided reimbursement. 

The same is true today. 

There is nothing wrong with selling kits and services, in fact there is a long and time honored tradition of this but the aim was not to make money or get rich quick. It was an addition source of income for people living on subsistence farming with the aim to make life comfortable, not lavish. I believe this should be our approach today as well. We are more likely to spend money on buying our materials rather that self harvest and crafting our materials, and indeed we are more likely to use more in our spell work than our forebears ever did, so relatively speaking we will charge more than our cunning folk  ancestors however that does not excuse us taking advantage.
Fraud and Scams

I am all for getting paid for time, energy and materials but when figures reach the order of hundreds and thousands I get just as leary as I would about Evangelical pastors demanding similar amounts in tithes and offerings. I will go into more detail about the charlatans, fraudsters and scammers that rip off the Pagan community next week but for now; do not assume that because someone has talent that they will not abuse it; don’t assume that everyone is as spiritual as you and remember that if someone shows you their face, even if they are showing it to someone else, believe them!
Image Credits

Money Money Money 
The Money Changer and His Wife – Quentin Matsys 1514

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Pagan Dawn – Compassion for refugees: A Pagan perspective

This post has been taken from the Pagan Dawn website and the full posting can be found here.

“ The chosen text [selected from Havamal] echoes exactly the same teaching but comes from an age much nearer to our own in space and time. These verses are the words of Odin, the High One, who like Zeus is also a god of wanderers…

The essence of the selection is that generosity is its own reward as it destroys anxiety and faint-heartedness. Practical courtesy to strangers is advised, for any of us may have bad luck, but every refugee comes with their own back story of accomplishments, which may be of use or interest to us now or which may be turned to account for them as they find their feet. And the guest/ refugee has obligations too. This is a relationship of equals, one of whom is temporarily in need, not a paternalistic relationship of dependence… ”

 

 

the_stranger_at_the_door

“The Stranger at the Door” by W.G. Collingwood (1908)

 

Hávamál

48 Generous and brave men live the best,
they seldom harbour anxiety;
but the cowardly man is afraid of everything,
the miser even sighs when he gets gifts!

37 Even a small home is better than none;
everyone’s someone at home;
[but] a man’s heart bleeds when he has to beg
for every single meal.

2 Blessed be the givers!  A guest has come in,
where is he going to sit?

3 Fire is needful for someone who’s come in
and who’s chilled up to the knees;
food and clothing are needed for the man
who’s journeyed over the mountains.

4 Water is needful for someone who comes to a meal,
a towel and a warm welcome …

135 I advise you, Loddfáfnir, [naïve lad]
to take advice;
you would benefit, if you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
do not scorn a guest
nor drive him away from your gates;
treat the homeless well.

132 …never hold up to scorn or mockery
a guest or a wanderer.

133 Often those who sit in hall do not really know
whose kin those newcomers are;
no man is so good that he has no blemish,
nor so bad that he can’t succeed in something.

69 No man is completely wretched, even if he has bad luck;
one man has been blessed with sons,
another with kinsmen, another has enough money,
another has done great deeds.

35 A man must go, he must not remain a guest
always in the same place;
the loved man is loathed if he sits too long
in someone else’s hall.

(With adaptations, from the translation by Carolyne Larrington 1996)

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The House Magical – Part Five ‘Hearth Spirits’

Pilgrim's Way

hearth-lampAfter cleaning, blessing and unpacking, the next important thing for me to do was make contact with the Hearth Spirit.  I decided Saturday would be a good time, by this point we had been in the house over a week and I had been practising my morning devotionals every day.  All seemed pretty calm and tranquil, there was no sense of urgency about performing this work, but building a strong and mutually beneficial relationship with one’s hearth spirits takes time, so the sooner I could get going the better.

There are almost as many names for house spirits as there are methods for contacting and communicating with them.  Known as, for example, Brownies, Boggarts, Dobbins, the Domovoi and Hobs (depending on regional folklore) many of these beings are thought to be hangovers from the older hearth based Gods, personally I see them as being separate entities altogether.  I don’t use…

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The House Magical – Part Six ‘Apotropaic Magic’

Pilgrim's Way

“For a man’s house is his castle, and each man’s home is his safest refuge”
Sir Edward Coke 1628

keysFor some the home is a place of luxurious comfort, like ye olde Norman Kings, one’s castle is little more than a status symbol, a demonstration of power, wealth and accomplishment.  For others, probably the majority, the home is one’s fortress, the place where we feel safe surrounded by four walls to keep the dangers of the world out, a place we can nest, snuggle and be ourselves.  Somewhat contradictory, I feel home should be a place we are safe enough to be vulnerable.  Home is about walls and boundaries, anyone familiar with the runes will understand this concept as it is embodied by the rune Othala associated with the household, ancestral lands, estates and so on, even the shape of the rune is very reminiscent of an enclosure.

We expect…

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Are Witches Eco-Warriors? 

​Raise your stardard’s and heed the call, the Eco-warriors rise!

Witchcraft, rightly or wrongly, is often conflated with the worship, reverence and general love of nature. Whilst it is true many Witches do revear nature as part of their religion witchcraft itself is a craft, not a religion, and therefore nature worship doesn’t apply or appeal to everyone. Whilst it is fair to say most humans are interested in / aware of ecological issues to some degree or another my identification as a Witch doesn’t make it a requirement that I become a card carrying member of the Green Peace protesting team. 

There are issues which appeal to Witches more than maybe others, or maybe should. I mentioned about the ecological issues surrounding crystals and semiprecious stones and how awareness of the issues are not is widespread amongst Witches and new age practitioners as it should be so I am not going to cover that particular issue again.  Instead I’m going to look at a couple of other things in brief.
Call of the Warrior

Fracking is a massive issue not just in the UK but around the world. The sustainabilityof this method of extracting natural gas, it’s water consumption, impact on the landscape and water sources are just a few of the questions raised about this protest. This issue appeals to pagans on a number of levels, not least the anamistic belief in the Mother Earth, and the pagan community has reacted to this situation in the form of The Warriors Call  This group engage in ritual and protest action in order to both protect the land and stop the trend towards fracking. 

Warriors Call Golden Sigil

Warriors Call Golden Sigil

Sustainability of energy resources is a broad issue. Carbon  based energy sources are not only a finite resource but as avalible dwindles the methods of extraction become increasingly damaging to the environment.  Campaigns about pollution and deforestation are linked by association to carbon fuel, as is the ecological balance of the oceans. 

There are so many interconnecting examples of cause and effect around energy sustainability that it dizzying, and people are drawn to different causes based on the way they connect with them. I want to move on to another area before I get too bogged down…. 
Animal Rights and Sustainability

One big conflict that often appears in forums is the use of animal remains in Witchcraft and the debate as to whether or not all Witches should be Vegetarians. Opinions vary on both subjects with some finding animal remains integral to their practice whilst others find it an offense. Let’s take each aspect in turn. 
Fox hunting and badger culls are just two examples of animal welfare issues that pagans may become involved in. The issues usually revolve around animal cruelty and the necessity of the cull in the first place. I am of the opinion that hunting should be done for food and materials only, with the greatest part of the animal used. It is not just a jolly old lark but an act with a purpose, carried out with respect and in a way which is as humane as possible. I also feel that culls are sometimes necessary for the sustainability of the landscape and animal population. Like hunting it should be done as humanely as possible with the animal remains being used as much as possible, and one of my prefered sources for remains is responsible and humane culls. This may not always be possible where a cull relates to infection control but any cull undertake for this reason should be based in clear science and I am not yet convinced about TB in Badgers requiring quite that level of death. 

But what about vegetarians and vegans? Well everyone has a right to live their lives in any way they choose. I have no time for militant anything. I think we have a mixed set of dentures and require multiple sources for our dietary needs for a reason. That said I respect that this issue comes from the same anamistic concern as culls and hunts. Although I do think it is carrying it too far to call animals our brothers and sisters (a personal pet hate of mine) but I understand the sentiment. So long as the process is as humane as possible, and in truth there is no perfect slaughter process, then I will have no problem with the beef stew I am having for tea tonight. 
The 3 R’s of the New Age

Leave Reading, Writing and Arithmetic at school, the new three R’s are Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. If you know any children who like Bob the Builder  you’ve probably heard that particular phrase repeated  (over and over again!). I think that there has been a recognisable culture of disposal over the last 30 years or so  which is slowly being challenged as evidence of its existence, such as landfills and the Atlantic Garbage Patch, growing to the point where they cannot be ignored. It isn’t even something that you only see on the global scale. Fly tipping, littering and unnecessary throwing away of unwanted items are just some of the things that you used to encounter all too regularly in your local area. 

Things are getting better. Manufacturers and food producers are more mindful of the packaging they use. Many countries levy plastic bag charges and the use of recycled and reclaimed materials is ever growing. Councils have in place recycling processes for households, though the depth and detail varies from place to pace even country to country. They are increasingly quick to respond illegal tipping, issuing fines and criminal proceedings where possible, and many council tips (at least in my area) have reuse shops and will reclaim as much furniture, clothing and household items as possible. These efforts are positive, but alone they are not enough. These efforts need to be consistent globally and occur in all aspects of life for a real turn around to be achieved. In addition to our personal and local efforts national and international actions need to follow suit.
Final Ruminations

I am of the opinion that, as members of the human race, we all have a responsibility to protect the planet  (and beyond) as much as possible. The form this takes varies from person to person, country to country, based on a whole series of factors. For example I would like an electric car and to have solar panels and a household wind turbine on my roof. The reality is I can do none of these things so I have to address it in different ways such as recycling and upcycle as much as possible, keeping energy use to a minimum and being mindful of a variety of other factors within my control. I sign petitions, donate to worthy causes but for a variety of practical reasons I draw the line at protesting. 

Whilst I think we need eco-warriors what we really need is a greater culture of awareness and mindfulness. As adults we are responsible for the earth we leave our children but unless we impart a positive mindset and leave them the begings of the infrastructure needed to allow them to turn things around it will all be for nothing. We have to challenge the established reliance on carbon based fuels and everything that goes with it but this is hard because of the power held by the individuals and companies that benifit from our reliance on oil and gas.

This is why we need warriors, but there is no point having people who can talk the talk but aren’t carrying through in other areas which is why a greater culture of mindfulness is needed, particularly amongst those who do claim to be nature worshiping. This relates strongly to a subject I have highlighted in the part around the treatment of ancient sites and monuments  Just as you cannot claim to revere ancient sites and damage them by anointing with oil or chipping/removing stones you cannot honour the earth by leave non – biodegradable materials laying around after your ritual / protest, it’s just a smidge hypocritical if you ask me. I would rather have a community of aware, mindful people rather than a collection of warriors with their eye always on the next battle, not the one just fought.
Current Political Uncertainty 

The 9th of November is another day in American Politics with the potential to go down in infamy. Originally I intended to leave politics out of this post but with the elevation of Donald J Trump to role of President-Elect it became impossible to avoid. 

Until that point the biggest nation in the world was on board with efforts to address climate change and broad ranging ecological issues. Now they have a POTUS who is a firm climate change denier willing to promote the interests of business above climate  This, as with many things represented by this incoming Commander in Chief, shakes me to the core. The issues associated with climate change are huge and for America not to be on board, as one of the largest consumers of fossil fuels and resources in general, may be the defining point in our attempts to create a sustainable future for our children. This may be a turning point for this issue  as it is with so many others put at risk by a Trump Presidency. 

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