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Weekly Update: 8/14/2000

Author: Witchvox Central
Posted: August 14th. 2000
Times Viewed: 5,391

A Wonderful Piece of News...

Greetings everyone!

TWV wants to share with you, dear friends, a long anticipated letter from the Internal Revenue Service that we received this week. (dated -- August 2, 2000)

"Based on the information supplied, and assuming your operations will be as stated in your application for recognition of exemption, we have determined you are TAX EXEMPT FROM FEDERAL INCOME tax under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) effective April, 7 1997. Donors may deduct contributions to you as provided in section 170 of the code"."

YES! We FINALLY received our 501(c)(3) Federal Tax Exemption status from the IRS and in a bizarre twist they even made it retroactive to April 1997. We can finally say "Your donation to the Witches' Voice IS tax deductible"

Why this took three years (it usually takes 1-2) is another saga in itself... Although we have never bored you with the details here, it involved countless correspondences with the IRS and over 4 inches of screen shots and financials from our first two years on and off line. The data we had, the patience to wait for an answer we struggled with. BUT we wanted to do this right. With much help from our lawyer Michael J. Murphy, Esq. (Counselor at Law - Natick, Mass.) we DID do this in a manner that is correct and for the good of all.

All we can say is Whoo-Hoo! Fritz and I got so excited that we splurged on a couple of dairy-queen ice cream cones to celebrate. I know... I know... pretty wild stuff eh? hardly expect such behavior from such staid and usually stable folks... but we have been fighting for this for such a loooong time... and... and... OK, we're all calmed down now. Thank you for your attention. <grin>



Thank You For Sharing Your "Pagan Perspectives"!
Last week we kicked off one of our newest sections called Pagan Perspectives -an open format message board where YOU can post your comments on the various issues of interest or concern to pagans. We here at TWV were very pleased that so many of you took the time to record your views. The messages were insightful, well written and honest. Last week's question was on the pagan communities' involvement in politics and how the US presidential race was stacking up. Since then, we have discovered-rather rediscovered- another pagan website which offers free graphics of the pagan political persuasion.


Fellowship of the Earth
(FOTE) reminds us that, "This is a very important election year for Americans, one that will determine what type of country our future generations will be living in... Take the time to make the decisions that you feel are right for you, your family and the future." The graphics offered are stunning- and just in case you forgot to bookmark some of those political site links- there is a handy listing of many of them at the bottom of the same page. While we were hanging around their web site admiring those graphics, we also found out some other exciting news concerning the FOTE Folks:

This past summer, FOTE decided to enter a garden landscape in their local County fair. There were many different classifications in the Floriculture exhibit entries and FOTE chose to enter the Amateur Division which was open to any non-profits, clubs, school groups, churches and organizations. In this division there was a choice of two themes; "Millennium Magic" and "All American Family Fun". Uh, can you guess which one they went with?

Incorporating the elements-and some of the more subtle magical symbols and entities such as the different fairies for each element-the members of FOTE added "lots of sparkly things like Mylar wands and lots of glitter. Mushrooms and wind chimes and the central focus was of a Victorian Gazing Ball to create a reflection of the whole garden. The effort and love paid off. FOTE won the first prize blue ribbon for their entry. FOTE added a poem to tie it all together for those who still couldn't quite get the "Millennium Magic" theme:'

"Millennium Magic is all around, -- It's in the sky and on the ground, -- From the mountains to the sea, -- The Earth's magic is for you and me!"

Pagan Perspectives - WitchVox Question of the Week!

Last week, we introduced a new section where YOU can voice your opinions and comments about various topics of interest. Our first question was simply "Who are you going to Vote for and why? The responses were well thought out and quite enlightening (click here to read the responses).

This week... The big community buzz was related to the definition of the word "Witch" over at the Encyclop¾dia Britannica Online Website (see Wren's Bird Call of the week just below). Although, many did voice their concerns and offer suggestions when this first hit the net (over a year ago), awareness of this issue has once again surfaced and the Pagan community is buzzin' with concern... It's is doubtful that we will ever change the historical meaning of the word Witch but we can change the present day definition. This week's HOT ISSUE begs the question...

If YOU were writing the definition (in an encyclopedia) of the word "Witch/Witchcraft" what would it say?

Click for Posted Definitions or to offer Your Definition



WitchVox International: For the Record Over the years TWV has taken the occasional "cheap shot" for being too "American focused". Some have stated that we don't know what is happening in the Pagan World. This IS true, we have never denied it. We live in America, 99% of those that participate in the WORK for this site are Americans and we generate this work with a very small (2-5) central staff of volunteers. We have worked hard to include all countries in our very active networking section (WitchVox.net . We have encouraged and featured essays, festival reviews and news from all over the planet. We really DO think globally, we have since day one. If you don't see enough info related to YOUR country, it is only because we don't receive info from Pagans in your country. As always you are the Witches' Voice and *our* international scope is up to you. We welcome any and all writings from around the world.

Wren's Bird Call of The Week

is a "caaa-ll" for the folks at Britannica.com to stop glorifying their own past accomplishments in educating the public and step on in to the present day where they are not doing nearly as well. TWV has received dozens of outraged emails from pagans this past week concerning the definition of witchcraft as it currently resides on the Britannica web site. While we realize that throughout many different cultures and centuries, witchcraft has been defined in negative terms, the definition of witchcraft as it is experienced today requires that a new chapter be written. Witches and witchcraft have been studied by academics and theologians as a societal aberration and a religious heresy, but it is only in the last few years that serious study has been done of the rise of modern pagan beliefs or of neo-paganism.

Lest we fall once again into the mythical trap of claiming that all of the victims of previous witchcraft persecutions practiced various pagan religions, or even followed a set of local customs that are essentially the same as those celebrated by the Witches of today, we must concede that the 'witchcraft' of the past has its own history which may or may not be truly the basis of our own modern Witch community's roots. To put it bluntly, some of those existing definitions ARE true concerning what witchcraft was -or perceived to be- in those varied places and times. But the real question has never been-Were the 'Burning Times' victims really Witches (or witches) and really practicing the remnants of a pagan religion?-but rather what caused people to rise up against and openly persecute certain segments of their own populace? (That is the very real question that still needs to be answered today.)

HOWEVER, that was then and this is now. The bibliography which follows the Britannica study of witchcraft contains no cited references newer than 1984, with most being considerably older than that. The absence of any contemporary works by pagan authors or historians is not only noticeable, it points to a sad perception on Britannica's part that the case for or against a more positive revisiting of the subject of witchcraft is a closed book. But even these suppositions and the commentary above cannot dismiss the less than 'trilled' reaction to the following-and indeed, the only- reference which addresses the modern practice of Witchcraft (witchcraft):
"The incorrect use of the term (witchcraft) refers to persons claiming to be witches and reported to belong to covens, who assemble on appropriate calendrical occasions for Sabbaths at which they perform rituals according to a tradition that the coven leaders claim descends from earlier witches. This kind of "witchcraft," judging by the way in which its participants freely acknowledge their adherence, seems highly respectable compared with the activities of the despised and hated miscreants of earlier periods in our own society or of contemporary non-literate or peasant communities. These so-called witches claim to be adherents of an ancient religion, the one to which Christianity is regarded as a counter-religion, and in this way they seek to secure public recognition of their eccentric activities by appealing to the cherished modern value of religious toleration.

These practitioners usually turn out to be entirely sincere but misguided people who have been directly or indirectly influenced by Margaret Murray's article "Witchcraft," published in the 14th edition of Encyclop¾dia Britannica (1929), which put forth in its most popular form her theory that the witches of western Europe were the lingering adherents of a once general pagan religion that has been displaced, though not completely, by Christianity. This highly imaginative but now discredited theory gave a new respectability to witchcraft and, along with the more practical influence of such modern practitioners as Aleister Crowley and Gerald Gardner, contributed to the emergence of self-styled witches that are sometimes featured in the sensationalist press." -- (Britannica, witchcraft, the modern, secular society, http://www.britannica.com/bcom/eb/article/1/0,5716,115001+10+108515,00.html)
If that above segment strikes you as being more of an opinion piece and less of a scholarly hypothesis of modern Witchcraft (witchcraft), then you are not alone in that viewpoint. Wiccan Knowledge has put up a call to action page and the email lists have been very active in recognizing the need for some sort of change-at least for the modern definition of Witchcraft (witchcraft)- to be entertained by Britannica. The Pagan Educational Network (PEN), in December of 1997, organized such a project and contacted the dictionary and other reference publishers to at the very least consider the inclusion of more contemporary definitions of Witchcraft and neo-paganism in future publications. Many good reference materials are available from the PEN site. If you would like to address this with Britannica yourself, the contact info is: editor@us.britannica.com or editorial-comments@us.britannica.com

Starwood 2000 -
A WitchVox review by Don Two Eagles WaterHawk

Starwood is the largest "Pagan attended" festival in America. It has held this distinction for two full decades. Wren and I have attended several Starwoods over the years and hold this gathering near and dear to our hearts. Starwood is held every July at the Brushwood Folklore Center in Sherman, NY. Thanks to the magic and hard work of Frank, Darlene, our good friend Roy and the rest of the Brushwood staff, this is truely a wonderful "getaway" for so many. The Starwood Gathering itself is hosted by a Ohio group called A.C.E. (Association for Consciousness Exploration). TWV would like to, once again, thank Don Waterhawk for the taking the time to pen this review...

"To write a good review, one must participate in everything. No *&%$#@&^ way can that be done at Starwood by one person, But here's a few, Puffer Dome!! I had talked some good friends, Barb and Steve, into coming to Starwood. Now, up until recently, they had done Art shows and Pow-Wow's for the most part. But I had to show them this. So one night we walked in the dark for about 15 minutes, winding our way through the lower fields, turned the corner and there it was, this huge balloon lit up from videos and pictures being splashed throughout the inside of this very large dome, attached to it was a Marquee' lit up with colorful lights, techno-rock blaring from inside, with people both inside and outside watching this Music/Media happening. When we saw this, I looked at Steve, we both turned around, scanning the beautiful land in the evening light, seeing the trees, hills, ley of the land, then came back to the Puffer Dome, all lit up, in the middle of a field. Only at Starwood, friends, only at Starwood."... (continued)

For the complete review visit our Pagan Festival Reviews Section or simply click HERE.

Adult Pagan Essays for August NOW Up:

Priests and Priestesses:

We asked: "What defines a Priestess or Priest, and what minimum standards should those who call themselves Pagan clergy be held to?" This is always a hotly contested subject, and there are no easy answers. Our essayists this month bring us some worthwhile insights on what Pagan clergy is, might be, and could be... Check out the Priests and Priestesses essays... Page ONE - TWO - THREE - FOUR

Compassion:
It's a word that people throw around a lot in religious discussions, while it is often conspicuously lacking from actions taken in the name of religion. Since it appears in the Charge of the Goddess, we asked what compassion means to you, as a Pagan. Here are three interesting answers Check out Compassion essays... Page ONE - TWO - THREE

Updated: Last Month we posted our Monthly essay topics list for the remainder of the year (July - December 2000)... Both the Young Pagan and Adults topics lists can be found from the Articles and Submission guidelines page... As always, your suggestions FOR topics are always welcome.


The long wait is over!
One of Stewart Farrar's classic novels is once again available:

"We are pleased to announce the republication of Stewart Farrar's novel "OMEGA" on the 25th of July. This is a special memorial edition and is being published by Bastet Press, McDonough, New York. It is hoped that this will be followed by several more of Stewart's novels. The Address for Bastet Press is: PO Box 100, McDonough, New York, 13801-0100 (USA). -- BB, Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone (Visit the Farrar Home Page... Wicca na hErin).

Most of the pagan community knows of Stewart through his non-fiction books on pagan beliefs and practices and his many collaborative works with Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone. This is a chance for you to become acquainted with another side of the complex character of Stewart Farrar. His witty writing style and innovative plot twists will keep you both entertained and enthralled. TWV is happy to hear that more of Stewart's fiction may be published (or republished) in the future. (And while we're not saying that you may find some secret magickal gems in Stewart's fictions, we're also not saying that you won't!)

Little Witch and The Christian -- 21,328 Hits!
Final Segment Now UP


This week TWV presents the final segment of this five part piece by John. To say it's been popular would be an understatement. Almost 20,000 pairs of eyes have check this out since we launched part one 4 weeks ago.

The original "Little Witch" was first presented here some 18 months ago and was so popular that we begged John to take it further... Last month this happened and he has penned a follow-up story starring the same endearing and outspoken main character. This time, we find the Little Witch attending a wedding. Realizing that she knows few people at the celebration and left sitting alone at one of the tables, our Little Witch begins to wish for "something" to happen that would be "pleasant and interesting and maybe even lively".

Be careful what you wish for... you just might get it! What the Little Witch does with what she 'gets' is the subject of a five-part series called, Little Witch and The Christian (click for Part I - Part II - Part III - Part IV and Part V).

Web Note: This special feature is part of our new printable Basics of the Craft section.


In closing... we here at TWV believe that Life is interactive. Whether we may choose to become involved in a wide circle of networking or a small one, in local projects or international campaigns, in politics or parenting or do it publicly or privately, we all have something-some gift, some insight, some wisdom-that we can share with others. Pagans are no longer content sitting in the cheap seats in the back of the room or at the rear of the bus. We are connecting, communicating, organizing and moving forward. Interactivity is the buzzword of the future and pagans perhaps understand and embrace that concept better than just about anyone else. After all, interactivity is what has brought us this far...

As always, our heartfelt thanks go out to the many of you that believe in, contribute to and continue to support this mission in your own heartfelt ways...You ARE the Witches' Voice.

In Your Service,

Wren Walker & Fritz Jung
The Witches' Voice
Year 2000 - August 14th.






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