In Babbo Natale, Italy has its own Father Christmas. But it's La Befana, the ugly, broom-flying and present-wielding witch who keeps children on their toes in many parts of the country. Like St. Nick, Befana knows who's been naughty and nice.
Like many Christian traditions, Befana has pagan roots, as a good witch who played the role of Mother Nature and was celebrated in December for providing life throughout the year.
The most common telling of the Befana story has the three wise men stopping to ask an old woman for directions on their way to Bethlehem. They invite her to join the party, but she refuses because she has too much sweeping to do. After realizing her mistake, she tries and fails to catch up with the wise men with a bag of treats. On the eve of their arrival she throws herself beneath a tree in despair. One of the branches turns into a magic broom, which she is to ride for eternity in her never-ending search for the baby Jesus.
13 December 2008
12 December 2008
Fish (fly-replete, in depth of June,
Dawdling away their wat'ry noon)
Ponder deep wisdom, dark or clear,
Each secret fishy hope or fear.
Fish say, they have their Stream and Pond;
But is there anything Beyond?
This life cannot be All, they swear,
For how unpleasant, if it were!
One may not doubt that, somehow, Good
Shall come of Water and of Mud;
And, sure, the reverent eye must see
A Purpose in Liquidity.
We darkly know, by Faith we cry,
The future is not Wholly Dry.
Mud unto mud!--Death eddies near--
Not here the appointed End, not here!
But somewhere, beyond Space and Time,
Is wetter water, slimier slime!
And there (they trust) there swimmeth One
Who swam ere rivers were begun,
Immense, of fishy form and mind,
Squamous, omnipotent, and kind;
And under that Almighty Fin,
The littlest fish may enter in.
Oh! never fly conceals a hook,
Fish say, in the Eternal Brook,
But more than mundane weeds are there,
And mud, celestially fair;
Fat caterpillars drift around,
And Paradisal grubs are found;
Unfading moths, immortal flies,
And the worm that never dies.
And in that Heaven of all their wish,
There shall be no more land, say fish.
10 December 2008
Image via Wikipedia
Logic really has no place in faith. By faith, I am referring to belief in something without needing to have concrete evidence to back it up. Belief in God or a Supreme Divine being requires this type of faith.
When you start to look for logical proof for the existence of God, you wind up running headlong into a brick wall. Most of these walls are built by other people who don’t want their world rocked. Logic requires concrete evidence, but if someone doesn’t accept the body of evidence given, you are back to square one. Therefore, I see no reason to argue with someone of the existence of God in any logic based debate.
"When we try to reach the infinite and the Divine by means of mere abstract terms or images, are we not even better than children trying to place a ladder against the sky?"
It is hard enough for us to grasp infinity, let alone define God, attempting to do so is even harder when we attempt to use logic. Logic has it’s place, but theology doesn’t lend itself well to the use.
Usually when someone wants you to provide logical evidence of God’s existence, you are dealing with someone who is out for an argument. No matter what you say, even if well thought out, the other party will have a rebutle in the wings waiting to crush what you say. Most those who are trying to get you into these discussions are out to show that your faith is groundless and for not. You will never change their mind, so why even bother. The best way for you to express your faith is to live it. Through your expression, you show the only logical proof that I am aware of for your beliefs.
Now to totally eclipse what I’ve said, I will give you one example of a logical argument for the existence of the Divine. The following enigma is what I have found that answers that question for me.
There is no God but what cannot be comprehended
There is noting that cannot be comprehended, but what is not conceivable
There is nothing not conceivable but what is immeasurable
There is nothing immeasurable but God
There is no God but what is not conceivable*
In this circular logic is the only answer that I have found that speaks volumes to me.
For more solid arguments, I will let others who have pondered longer and with more insight give their arguments to the world. Check out this link: http://www.apologeticsinfo.org/outlines/godandlogic.html. More links will be made available on my website when the final version of this article is publshed.
*The 21 Lessons of Merlyn by Douglas Monroe, pg 289.
13 November 2008
Image via Wikipediaby Patricia Monaghan
What makes Witches different? Casting spells and wearing pentacles? No. It's deeper than that, more powerful, more revolutionary. It's the Goddess.
Witchcraft is one of the many religions that recognizes divinity in feminine as well as masculine form. Witches are not monotheistic; they do not believe there is only one god who lives somewhere upstairs. To Witches, divinity is multiple: God and Goddess. God in the sky, Goddess in the running water; God in the stag forest, Goddess in the birds of the air. Witches find divinity
everywhere. In creating rituals and art and spells and poems, Witches draw from the great reservoir of human wisdom called mythology. For untold generations, people have created stories that describe how they perceive the Goddess. There are innumerable goddesses, so many
they cannot be counted. Goddesses of the sky and sun, of the moon and stars; goddesses of the rivers and the ocean; goddesses of birth, death, love, war; goddesses of the doorstep and the harvest and the spinning wheel.
So naturally there are goddesses of magic, for magic is one of the most ancient spiritual tools of the human race. Here is a short primer of Witch-goddesses from various lands. You can use their names, their emblems, their stories in your own witchcraft. But don't stop here,
for there are many more goddesses who are shapeshifters, shamans, prophets, midwives, healers, herbalists-- -all specialists in arts that the Witch might practice.
Adsagsona: Continental Celtic goddess (from France or Germany), called "the weaver of spells." In Celtic lands, words were power; finding the right words was a magical act.
Arianrhod: Welsh goddess whose name means "silver wheel" and who lived on a magical island, either in the sky or in the ocean, where she was served by innumerable maidens.
Carman: Powerful Irish Witch who could destroy anything she chose by chanting secret spells.
Cerridwen: Welsh goddess who could brew magic in her cauldron and knew the secrets of all plants. She was also a shapshifter, able to cahnge her form at will.
Circe: One the most famous mythic Witches, the Greek Circe ("circle") lived on a magical floating island in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by wild animals---lions and wolves and bears---who did her bidding. With magical herbal mixtures, she was able to turn people into animals when they deserved it.
Dahut: This passionate magician-princess lived in Brittany, the weternmost part of France. She built the world's most beautiful city, the crystal-walled Ys, with help of the fairies of the sea---the Korrigans.
Hecate: Famous Greek goddess of Witches, she was worshipped at the dark of the Moon at places where three roads met, for it was said she was the only being in the world who could look three ways at once because she had three heads: serpent, horse, and dog. in her honor, "Hecate suppers" were held, when her followers would feast together and share their witchy knowledge. After dinner, they left the remnants of their food outdoors as ooferings to the hounds
that accompanied their goddess on her midnight journeys.
Heith: This Scandinavian Witch or shaman specialized in casting spells that were so subtle that no onw knewshe had spoken at all---although the thoughts she desired her targets to think appeared magically in their minds.
Hekt: This Egyptian frog-goddess ruled not only human magic but that of the earth as well, especially the magical transfromation of seeds into plants.
Louhi: A fierce, canny Finnish goddess, she was so powerful she was able to steal the Sun away from the sky and hide it in her house at North Farm. She owned the sampo, a magical tool that created abundance, which was stolen from her by a Finnish hero.
Marinette: Among the followers of Haitian Voudoun, Marinette is the spirit of sorcery, causing her followers to wave their arms like owls and screech. She haunts the woodlands at night in the form of an owl.
Medea: Great enchantress of Greek myth, meea was able to create dangerous potions that could either bring love, sleep, or death. She was able to fly through the air in a dragon-powered chariot. She had several human husbands, none of whom were faithful to her, so she eventuelly transformed herself into the goddess of snakes.
Meroe: She was a Witch of Greek legend who could bring the sky down to ceiling height, turn people into beavers, and teleport wherever she wished to go.
Morgan Le Fay: In the legends of Britain and Wales, this is the name of a great Witch who had the blood of fairies in her veins. She was a student, perhaps the lover, of the great magician Merlin.
Nimue: This is the Welsh name for the mysterious sorceress called, in legends of King Arthur and Camelot, the Lady of the Lake. That lake protected her magical world, Avalon, from human sight. There she lived in perpetual summer in a land where there was only beauty.
Pamphile: A legendary Greek Witch, Pamphile could change her shape into anything she desired, merely by anointing herself with an ointment she made from special secret herbs. To return to human form, she bathed in water in which bay leaf and anise were steeped.
Thorgerd: A Scandinavian woman, she was so powerful at sorcery that she became a goddess when she died. One of her skills was divination-- -using magical tools to see the future.
Viviane: This Welsh Witch was one of the lovers of the great magician Merlin, and was the only one of his students who became more powerful than he. She entrapped Merlin in a tree where he still sleeps today.
Yaoji: A Chinese goddess of sorcery, she reveals her closely guarded secrets to us in dreams.
There are other goddesses that Witches honor. Some look for goddesses that represent their ethnic heritage; others for goddesses that rule a certain area of life, such as love or money. There is no one right way to honor these goddesses, but rather many different rituals and cahnts that call them into our lives. Some claim, in fact, that goddesses are really parts of each woman,
and the rituals of witchcraft allow that part to manifest itself.
Whether the Goddess is within us or without, she is real, and waiting to come to the side of any Witch who calls her.
08 June 2008
I encourage you to read this article about teaching minors, it could save you a lot of grief. Here are the opening paragraph and the closing remarks.
----With the growing popularity of Wicca and other Pagan spiritual paths in the USA there has been a growing number of minors who have been entering the community and who have been seeking help from adult teachers to further their studies. Many of us who have been on this path for years would love to help out these new Seekers and to make certain that the information that they receive is both accurate and safe. But there is a real problem that many of those who agree to teach minors may not be aware of and which can land them in a world of legal trouble.
---There is also the cry that goes up from those minors who are turned away because teachers cannot take the risk of possible legal action that might take their home or put them in jail. The immediate thought is that this is 'unfair'. Actually these legal decisions are very fair in that they apply equally no matter the religion involved.
The same law seen as unfair by young Pagans also prevents actions by non-Pagans to hijack the teaching of Pagan children against the wishes of the Pagan parents.
I think it is important to young Seekers to understand why reputable groups and individuals will not take them on as students. And I think it is essential that anyone contemplating teaching those under the age of majority become educated as to what the risks are that they are taking so they can make an informed decision on their course of action.
05 June 2008
Image via Wikipedia
Pagan religions are far from being without rules. The most commonly known path, known as Wicca, has some very important rules that most practitioners adhere too.
These rules are simple, yet can mold everything around them. "These eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill,
An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will," these simple words speak volumes. "Harm None" means everyone, even yourself. The majority of the Wiccan Rede sums up the rest of the common beliefs.
The biggest issue surrounding this is most people who leave a faith have a tendency to make that faith into something that it is not. They attack it because they need to have closure or they need a scapegoat for all the bad things they have done in their lives. They have a habit of turning anything that doesn't agree with it into a creation of evil, condemning even those who share similar beliefs as themselves.
Understanding of the World's Religions is the only way to fight misrepresentation. Blaming what you believed in last year is not an excuse to blast a religion.