Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Black Madonnas, Starbird & our prophecies

I've been reading Black Madonnas: Feminism, Religion and Politics in Italy and it is interesting and I am not finished but I reached a point where the author was talking about black and the goddess and ancient civilizations and the soil and I well I had to stop because it irritated me that after 5 chapters that not once had the author mentioned anything about one of the significant theories regarding Black Madonnas - the possibility that these Madonnas are associated with a historical remembrance of Mary Magdalen's escaped to Europe with her female child. Ms Birnbaum has apparently started with an assumption and began weaving Italian tendencies (which I believe do stem from a connection to our ancient more balanced God/Goddess past) but it in a bit of a wild and reaching way. I'm not saying that she is all wrong. But I don't think her basic starting premise of ancient earth goddesses from Africa, India, etc are the primary reason behind all Black Madonnas.

Reading Black Madonnas by Lucia Chaivalo Birnbaum made me think about another book I'd seen and now have just completely finished reading, one by Margaret Starbird. "Woman with the Alabaster Jar". I think this woman has captured the truth. If you read or saw the DaVinci Code you know what she's talking about. BUT she is a Christian and where she ended up isn't where she started. She had to fight her way to the truth. She has a section on Tarot Cards (and an expanded book on Tarot that I have not read) that is the absolutely bar none BEST explanation for how Tarot came about. There are links to the pagan past in the existence of the Black Madonnas, but the pagan past is not the primary reason for black madonnas.

In 1989 I went to France and visited a lot of paleolithic sites including Lascaux and Les Eyzies, my primary reason for going. But while there I also visited Rocamadour and was drawn while there to light a candle at the Black Madonna shrine asking specifically to be reunited with the man who is now my husband. This was before I "found" Stregheria. After reading Margaret Starbird's book it seems I couldn't have asked for a better intercessor than the Black Madonna, who is not the Virgin Mary but Mary Magdalen, Jesus' lost bride. What I like about this book is that the author didn't start with a premise and fit the facts around it (like Birnbaum), she actually started looking for ways to reject a premise only to have many things weave together in a such a way that she had to end up where she did.

I've also read a biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine, a woman who was incredibly ahead of her time. Eleanor was from that part of France that had a strong link to the feminine and females with more power than anyone else anywhere in Europe at the time. Starbird's book provides a historical background for why things where like they were in this part of France and the history all fits together quite nicely.

I'm going to go back and finish Birnbaum's book, but I don't think that I will put it on my recommended reading list. Starbird, on the other hand, even with her essentially Christian bent, is VERY aligned with our prophecies. If Christians start thinking like she does we may have to place and addendum on Aradia's Words Concerning Christianity.

Words of Aradia: Concerning the Prophecies

These words are taken from Italian Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi:

Now it shall come to pass that our ways will no longer be mere heresy in the eyes of the Church. But they shall make our practices an evil things, and they shall seek to destroy us. So shall they steal independence from the people, and make them dependent upon the Church and its priests.

When the Pope shall come again into Rome and establish his power anew, then shall you know the first of all sorrows. With this shall the eyes and ears of all the Churches be upon our ways. And they shall make strict laws against us. Then shall come great sorrows, for they will openly hunt us down and slay us. In their prisons shall they torture us and create all manners of lies, forcing us to bear witness to all they say.

Not shall this time pass quickly, for the Church shall grow in power. But their time of power shall not last, for the Age of the Son will pass away and the Age of the Daughter shall come upon the world in all its glory.

Now when the Age of the Daughter shall come, then shall reason be restored and the world shall be complete.

To herald the coming of the Daughter, and to keep it remembered upon the Earth there shall arise a prophet. And a prophet shall come among the people every two hundred years, that our ways shall not be forgotten.

Then when the Age is near there shall be an awakening in the awareness of women, and their wills shall be asserted. Laws will then change and women shall walk in the ways of men. And the followers of the Old Religion shall receive a sign, for the last of the laws which persecute us shall vanish. In that year my prophet will be born, and will prepare the way for She is will come. This prophet shall be a teacher of the Old Ways whom many will call the Silent Prophet.

When the Age of the Daughter replaces that of the Son, then shall the Daughter appear and establish her power. And she shall be thirty-six at this time. Such changes will occur in the Earth, which the people of that time have never seen before. And there shall be upheaval and renewal. Out of the ashes shall arise the new world of reason.

People shall no longer be ruled by governments. Nor shall one people oppress another. There shall be no rulers, but only teachers and counselors. No one shall possess power over another, not shall anyone restrict or control any other person.

The Earth shall be of one people, and they shall all live under the emanating rays of love, peace, and reason.

Words of Aradia: Concerning Christianity

These words are taken from Italian Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi:

You have heard the Christians say that only through Jesus Christ can you enter into the Great Realm. So I tell you that Jesus was the spirit of love, and only by love may you enter in.

You have heard the Christians say much concerning the teachings of Jesus, but how many have you seen follow them? So I say to you that Christianity, as Jesus taught it, died with him on the cross. Even his own disciples were more concerned with their self-images and self importance.

The Christians say that we are evil and dangerous, but who is more so? They believe the world will end, and teach others concerning this, speaking of the destruction which their god will bring. The mind has great power, and many minds of one belief have much power (even to accomplish a great destruction). So I say to you that there shall indeed be this time of sorrow. But out of the ashes shall arise the new World of Reason. For the Great Ones shall use this to fulfill the plan, through the teachings of the Daughter.

There shall never be peach between our religions, for they ever strive against us. It is useless to attempt to reason with them, for they have never been known for their ability to reason. They choose to have faith in place of understanding.
Therefore it is best to avoid them so as not to anger them. For anger always follows lack of understanding. Remember also the time of persecution to come, and reveal nothing to them that shall harm our people or our ways.

It is sad that our ways of spirit cannot be extended to, nor shared with, the Christians.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Nose Twitching @ Spring Equinox

For Streghe the Spring Equinox is one of the points on the Wheel of the Year where your magic can get an extra boost. Magical seeds planted at the Spring Equinox come to fruition by the Fall Equinox.

Part of the ritual calls for a blessing of the seeds. A pouch can be created combining soil, blessed seeds and wine. After the pouch is created it can be hung from a tree for a good hunt or planted in the ground for a good harvest. Or create 2 pouches and do both.

Streghe also have a tradition of doing no more than 3 works of magic at a Treguenda or Veglione.

I did my 3 works of magic for the Spring Equinox and also planted one pouch and hung another from a tree in my backyard to better empower the magical workings.

One of the works of magic was associated with giving us the strength to only use the credit card for those things we NEED and to successfully and quickly pay off the balance.

For anyone who has kids that you will one day want to send to college (or even if you want to go yourself) I highly recommend a UPromise Credit Card. I have one. With all the country's financial crisis mess my current UPromise card is switching from being a Citibank Credit Card to a Bank of America Credit Card. The change over date is March 31. So we got new cards to replace the old ones. I used these new cards in my magic work.

The old card stopped working the day after my magical workings and the new card won't work until March 31st. This meant 2 days without being able to use the card. No big deal really, except that because of how the Upromise Card works (the more you spend on it AND PAY OFF the more money goes in your 529 Account) we got used to using it for the basics like gas for the vehicles and groceries. I think the Gods are telling us we may have gotten a little too used to it.

It seems as if the Gods would prefer for us to use the Debit Card for more purchases. So now that's what we'll do. Since 2 days have already made me more aware of patterns and assumptions, I'm thinking we need at least 6 months.

Extra boost indeed.
As with all magic, be careful what you ask for.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Psychics and learning to listen

Apparently the recession is good for psychics.
The article was published in the Boston Globe March 1st, but didn't make it to the Times Picayune until March 29th.

Not everyone is a believer.
But if you are reading this blog you probably have some personal experience with the psychic. You may have even worked with Tarot Cards yourself or had a reading.

One of the things I had to learn as I began to walk the path of a Witch and a Strega, was to listen to more than just the vibrations my ears can pick up. Since I started this blog it looks like I've posted at least twice on picking up a psychic message; Once last Fall and once this Spring.

Learning how to listen is not easy. As moderns we are trained to look for answers from outside of ourselves. If we want to know what the weather will be like today we turn on the weather channel. It's pretty rare these days for folks to wonder about the weather and then open the door step out and feel the actual the weather. We are inundated with information from the radio and the TV and the newspaper and the Internet. But this is only data folks. This is not knowledge. Not "knowing".

One of the things that Tarot Cards do for us is help us to stop and focus on what is right in front of us. Part of this is the actual the cards themselves and their symbology, but this can also be a way to learn to listen. Listen to the question. Look at the Cards and listen for the answer. Pulling out the cards, shuffling them, turning them over and reading them creates a mini-ritual that can set you up to Be Still and Listen. Tarot can be a training tool but only if we don't work the process too hard. In the end it is the listening that will matter most.

You can only learn how to listen AFTER you have learned how to be still. Meditation is a simple ritualized way to learn how to be still. But Ritual, Veglione & Treguenda, also provide you with a tried and true way to Be Still and Listen. It can be hard in the modern world to set aside time to actually do all the smells and bells associated with a ritual. But it has been my experience that doing the actual ritual at the appointed times helps mightily with learning how to be still and listen. The rituals open the pathways for the psychic messages to come through even when you aren't in circle. For Streghe, the Lasa/Lare Shrine is another way to regularly be still and listen.

It is Spring and the world is waking up. Step outside. Be Still and Listen. Be your own psychic.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pagan links to Easter

If you are a Pagan with children it is very hard to argue with the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. I don't try. As a scientist I made absolutely certain that my daughter understood, as early as 5, the physical science aspects of Winter Solstice, Summer Solstice, Spring Equinox & Fall Equinox. But we always have a "Christmas" Tree and the Easter Bunny always comes to our house. When children are very young, spring is about simple things like flowers blooming or stinging catepillars on oak trees. But we swim in a cultural stream that is affected by history: hidden (and not so hidden) Pagan history, Christian history, Jewish history, so the Easter Basket and the Easter Bunny is part of what we do.

The Christian celebration of Easter is a "moveable feast". A moveable feast is a religious holiday that falls on different dates in different years. Full Moon rituals.... moveable feasts. Not that the kids will get these off as religious holidays. Well you could try but, me personally, I am not willing to stick my neck out quite that far. Children to protect.

Easter is officially the first Sunday after the full moon following the Spring Equinox. Unless the first Sunday falls on a Full Moon, then it is the following Sunday.

No, I am not making this up. There are a couple of great articles explaining the detail in the reasoning for setting the date of Easter. Also check out this link. Even when the Christians agree about celebrating Easter they continue to quibble about the exact date. New Orleanians don't quibble because Easter sets the date for the more important moveable feast of Mardi Gras.

So as a pagan parent my recommendation is to teach your children about the science behind the Solstices & the Equinoxes. Make sure that you mark these days as special. Then don't fight the Easter Bunny but use the Spring Equinox as the time to when we should start appreciating the signs of Spring and keep look out for the Easter Bunny.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Basic Tenants of Belief

The tenants below are taken from Italian Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi:

We believe that the Source of All Things (The Great Spirit) is both masculine and feminine in nature.

We beleive that humans bear the Divine Spark of their Creator within themselves (soul/spirit) and that we are actually spiritual beings who are temporarily encased in physical matter.

We believe in reincarnation and view it as a process for spiritual liberation from the physical dimension.

We believe in psychic ablities and the supernatural as normal conditions which have been supressed by Judaic/Christian Culture, but can be restored through practice of the Old Ways.

We beleive in Magick as a manifestation of energy that is directed by the mind through various ancient techniques.

We believe in spiritual worlds and spirit beings.

We believe in the Law of Action and Reaction, and that what we do affects others, and what others do affects us. Therefore we strive to live in peace with those around us.

We believe in karma, meaning we believe in responsibility and consequences.

We believe in love, life and harmony as the spiritual foundation of our ways.

We believe in the expression of religious beliefs through rituals and festivals.

We believe in Earth Energy, meaning we acknowledge places of natural power existing upon the planet. We hold that the same is true for other natural objects.

We believe in a positive Afterlife and a successful spiritual evolution.

We believe that everything in Nature is of equal importance. Everything is linked and entwined beyond separation.

Words of Aradia: Concerning the Gods

These words are taken from Italian Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi:

Know that the Gods need our worship even as we need food and drink. Do not think that they serve us, for we are their servants. Therefore do not bargain or demand through prayer or ritual. The gods shall provide that which is needed.

Do not blame the sorrows of life upon the gods. For it is humankind which creates the despair on Earth.

Do not doubt the reality of the gods, for they do exist and are many. They have been since long before people walked upon the Earth. Yet as we are capable of understanding them, they are no older than we. For they are not the personifications, nor the images we establish. But the gods do respond to us through these things. We are linked to them by virtue of our yearning toward a higher nature.

The gods are attracted to our rituals because of the sacred signs that we use, and because of our worship which is vitality. They are attracted by the ritual fires and incense and by the purity of our naked bodies. They give and take the vital essences that we both need, through the power that we raise.

Each god is like us for our ways are but reflections of theirs. Each god has likes and dislikes and must be approached in accordance. Each god is linked to the culture of the people who give worship to it and must be called by appropriate ties.

Yet beyond all this are the God and the Goddess who together are the One; herein does the true worship belong.

Words of Aradia: Concerning the Goddess

These words are taken from Italian Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi:

The Goddess is the life force in as much as she is the fertility in all things. It is through Her activity that we are born and that seeds push up through the Earth and grow into plants. She moves the God to create through His desire for Her.

The Goddess is the joy of life. She is the passion to live. Compassion, love, gentleness and kindness are the essence of Her spirit. All women carry the Goddess within them in various aspects and degrees.

Yet there is duality in all things, and the Goddess can manifest as sterility, vengeance and destruction. She is the Soul of Nature.

The Goddess rules the night and the Moon is Her symbol. All women are linked to Her through the Moon, which influences the flow of blood. The night is the essence of the mystery which all women possess. This is the elusive quality which all women bear, but which can never be known or touched upon.

The desire of men for women is the desire of the God for the Goddess. It is the attraction of the life force.

The Goddess is known as the Queen of Heaven. She is clothed in stars and wears a silver crown adorned with a crescent moon. She is the Earth Mother, clothed in green and endowed with large breasts the rise as rounded hills rise beyond the lush green meadows. She is pregnant with the Child of Life, which She bears each year. She is the Virgin Maiden, naked and beautiful. She is youth and lust for life. She is the Enchantress and Temptress. She is all women.

The Goddess does not accept live sacrifices as were given in ancient times. She is the Goddess of life and all living things. She demands respect for life. If you give offerings in Her honor, then better it be of fruits and grains, or things of beauty.

The Goddess is the Queen of all Strega, which She calls Her Hidden Children. We are Her servants; She is not ours. She gives us life and receives us in the Afterworld. She teaches us the ways of Nature and Spirit. She gives us power and magick. She reveals all mysteries and gives light unto the night. And to the wise She imparts Her sacred name.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Words of Aradia: Concerning Nature

These words are taken from Italian Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi:

Nature is the Great Teacher. In Her are all things revealed. Nature reflects the Higher Ways of Spirit. The Creators established the Laws of Nature so that through them we might come to know the laws of the Great Ones. Therefore observe the ways of Nature around you both great and small. Everything has a purpose and reason. Be not confused by its seeming cruelty, for there is a duality in all things.

Respect Nature in all ways. Take only that which you must from Her, and remember nothing can be taken except that something be given. This is law for all Strega.

Know that the wind speaks of the knowledge of the Earth and the spirit of the kindrdeness of all living things emanates from everywhere.

Nature teaches all living things all that must be known. She teaches birds to make their nests, animals to hunt and survive, children to crawl and walk. She teaches life. Once She taught all people of Her ways, but they chose to go their own way. They chose to oppose and to control Her. But for Strega there can be no other way than Nature. A Strega must live in harmony with the Forces of Nature.

Covenant of Aradia

The Covenant of Aradia below is taken from Italian Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi:

The Covenant of Aradia

Observe the times of the sacred gatherings, for therein is the foundation of the powers of Stregheria.

When good is done to you, then do good to another. If someone wishes to repay you for a kindness, then bind them to go out of their way to help three others, then this shall clear the debt.

Do not use the arts of Stregheria to appear powerful among others. Do not lower the standards of the Art and thereby bring contempt upon the Old ways.

Do not take the life of anything unless it is to preserve life, yours or another's.

Do not give your word of honour lightly, for you are bound by your words and by your oaths.

Do not accept any authority over you unless it is of the Gods. Instead, cooperate with others but do not be a slave and always preserve your honour. Give respect to others and expect respect in return.

Teach all who appear worthy and aid the continuance of the Old Religion.

Do not belittle another's religious beliefs, but simply state your own truths. Strive to be at peace with those who differ.

Do not purposely cause harm to another, unless it is to prevent true harm to yourself or another.

Strive to be compassionate to others, and to be aware of the hearts and minds of those around you.

Be true to your own understanding and turn away from those things which oppose the good in you, or are harmful to you. Hold reverence to all within Nature. Destroy nothing, scar nothing, waste nothing, live in harmony with Nature, for the ways of Nature are our own ways.

Remain open in your heart and in your mind to the Great Ones who created all that is, and to your brothers and sisters alike.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Words of Aradia: Concerning Love

These words are taken from Italian Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi:

Love is the gift of the spirit's blessings. It is the emanation of spirit within. Love is the Great Attainment.

Receive love when it is offered, and offer love regardless. Yet do not allow the duality of love to cause you despair. For love can lift up you heart and it can likewise drag it down.

Accept love in the manner in which is comes to you. Do not possess it, or attempt to control it or shape it. For love is free and shall come or go in its manner.

Words of Aradia: Concerning Sexuality

These words are taken from Italian Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi:

The sexual power of a man or a woman is the strongest power that may be raised from the body. The Christians teach that sexuality must be repressed, and thereby rob people of their personal power.

Do not be confused by the duality of sex, for it can be physical alone or it can be spiritual alone. It can also be both together.

Share your sexuality with whomever you may, in whatever manner you may. For all acts of love and pleasure are rituals to the Goddess and to the God.

It has been written that you shall be free, and so shall you be free in body, and mind and spirit.

Be not like the Christians who teach shame and modesty and false morality. Blessed are the free.

You have heard it said that homosexuality is unnatural, yet I say to you that heterosexuality is likewise unbalanced. Everything is masculine and feminine in essence, and all bear the divine spark of the God and Goddess within them. Realize this, and do not exalt the one above the other. A Strega must live with inner and outer harmony.

You have heard the Christians condemn adultery, and say that the spouse is the property of the other. Yet no one may rightly dictate the will of another. Do not confuse love with sex or sex with love.

Remember that pleasure belongs to everyone, and rightly so. Therefore harm no one through you own will, nor place you will above another's.

Words of Aradia: Concerning Marriage

These words are taken from Italian Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi:

When a man and a woman join their lives together through ritual, and the love which they share, then they are linked to each other in another life to come.

Yet being together, know that each of you must be alone. Understand that even though you are bound together, let this not be as captives.

There shall always be others with who each of you may desire to share a closeness, either physical or spiritual. This is as it should be. Let your love desire fullness of life for each other and also pleasure for each other. Honor each other with openness and honesty.

Because you have joined you lives together, you are sanctuary and comfort for each other. Together shall you stand in all things, for you are true friends.

You are together because of your love, and you remain for this reason. Yet if this reason for coming together is forgotten, or fades, then it is well to part if needs be such. You do not honor the joining by remaining without love. Neither do you honor each other.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Words of Aradia: Concerning the Earth

These words are taken from Italian Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi:

The Earth is the nurturing power of the Mother. She nourishes us and from the soil She returns that which we sow. She gives us healing herbs and herbs by which we work our magick. The very Earth gives us life, without which we would perish.

There is a healing power in the Earth and a vital force. We know that a wounded animal will lay against the Earth to heal its wounds. They understand, and we are one with them through our religion.

I have taught you the secrets of the circle, for therein is the secret of the power of the Earth. Everything that the world does it does in a circle. The Earth teaches us the doctrine of Cycles. The Sun, the Moon, and the seasons come and go and return again and again. Even so it is with the cycles of our own lives. The Earth teaches us just as Nature does for they are one. Earth is the body and Nature is the Spirit.

We must live in harmony with the Earth and with Nature. To do otherwise is to court disaster. The forces of the Earth are greater than any power we can safely master. To strive against these forces is foolish.

Do nothing to the Earth that shall take away from the purpose it serves in Nature, for this is the natural balance. And the Earth shall always move against us to restore itself.

Is the tiller greater than the soil he till? Is the family greater than the crops they help grow? Is not the life within the soil, and within the crops, our own? How shall we be without them? What you do to the Earth you do to yourself.

Do not think that we are greater than the Earth, or than Nature. For surely they shall both crumble and dissolve all that we shall erect. And there shall be floods and earthquakes, and hostile weather to show us our errors and teach us perspective.