Weekly Update: 10/9/2000|
Author: Witchvox Central
Posted: October 9th. 2000
Times Viewed: 5,574
|October-A Month of Reflection and Revelry|
October really has to be the strangest month for most Northern Hemisphere Pagans. It's not the plastic-grin pumpkins, ghostly costumes or bottles of black nail polish on the Wal-Mart shelves that make the month seem so very odd. (And October IS still the only month in which I can tell my mother-in-law that those cobwebs hanging above my stairwell are really 'seasonal decorations'!) No, October is the strangest month for most Pagans in the upper latitudes because we are in that bizarre alternative state between reflection and revelry. On the one hand, Pagans spend the season of Samhain in a state of deep thought-recalling where we came from, remembering friends and loved ones who have passed into the Summerlands and reviewing lessons learned in the last twelve months. On the other hand, Pagans are often at their physical busiest-media interviews to schedule, rituals to plan and all of those "There is no Samhain, Lord of the Dead" letters to write. It is not so much a tug of war as it is a contradiction that doesn't really feel all that contradictory. Perhaps it is that October happens to be Mother Nature's strangest season-- and so we Pagans then are rather like Her bundled-up children crowded in the back of the hay wagon and are simply going along for the ride.
Photo note: The picture to your upper right is of a few members of the Coven of the Four Quarters at Pagan Pride Day in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. (Left to right: Duane, Allyria Mulesin Wynd, Jackie, and Triy). Bless YOU Allyria (email: AllyriaWynd@aol.com) for sharing this magick with us all.
Samhain season is that time of the year when Nature scatters all of her treasures out onto the ground. Apples, red and juicy, lie like succulent shadows in the orchards and the gourds and pumpkins practice making the faces (Children can catch them at it if they are quick enough!) that will eventually be etched into their tough little hides. The corn stalks are gathered into sheaths and bundles of bittersweet find themselves being woven into wreaths before both take their honored places on the porches and doors all over the town.
Wiccan Prayer at a Government Meeting
There is plenty to do as Samhaintide approaches. Besides bringing the fruits of the earth, it is also a 'tradition' here at Witchvox to look back at some of the harvest of 'fruit' produced by the various Pagan communities. According to their October 5th press release, Maevan Eller and Bryan Lankford report that "last week, Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk and other members of the Dallas City Council became the first Texas municipal body to allow a Wiccan prayer at a government meeting." "Mr. Lankford", the release continues," who was to have delivered the invocation a week earlier before having the invitation withdrawn and then reinstated, proceeded with the prayer despite outbursts by a member of the audience and several speakers who took to the microphone to speak out against him." Mayor Kirk, to his great credit, addressed the opposition stating that "the City Council is not in the business of choosing one faith over another. We have sought to have a representation of all religious faiths. I was moved by the invocation that was given today as I have been before." (If you missed any of the articles about this issue, surf on over to Texas Pagan Awareness Online or Wren's Nest).
Just in (10/11/00)... Texas Pagan News has just posted coverage of this event.
Photo credit: The picture of Brian Lankford doing the invocation (to your right) is part of a wonderful pictorial by Willow. Visit his website to experience this photo (in full size) and many others from this event.
Boo! Things That Go Bump In The News
Last week the staff here at TWV and other Pagan community activists became concerned when Halloween on the Net seemingly revised our Pagan history with a twist. Stating that "The Celts celebrated their New Year on November 1st. It was celebrated every year with a festival and marked the end of the "season of the sun" and the beginning of "the season of darkness and cold. The Celts believed, that during the winter, the sun god was taken prisoner by Samhain, the Lord of the Dead..." was irritating, of course. (Check your goodie bag contents!) But when the last few words of this sentence ran over into another completely different religious mythos altogether..."and Prince of Darkness." out came the nudges- with- a- broomstick- handle emails. If the 'Samhain as Lord of the Dead' thing has no relevance in Pagan history, a "Prince of Darkness' has even less. This phrase is only used in bad Hollywood movies and the evangelical pulpits of certain other world religions. There is no reference to any "Prince of Darkness" in the Pagan religions except through the propaganda papers such as the Malleus Maleficarum. (The stories behind the Witch Hunts of the past are fascinating reading for anyone interested in the 'other side' of Witchcraft history-you know, the part that was made up by those with a religious ax to grind-and one good source for this information can be found at Best Witches. Check out the links section there for some very interesting and informative side trips.)
Well, knock us over with a will-o-the-wisp! Louie Volpe (firstname.lastname@example.org), the content manager of 'Halloween on the Net', actually was interested in what Pagans had to say about revisionist history and put up the following notation:
* "It has been brought to our attention by numerous visitors that our mention of Samhain as "the Lord of the Dead and Prince of Darkness" is incorrect. We have been told that..."Identifying Samhain as a Celtic Death God is one of the most tenacious error associated with Halloween...No such God ever existed."
We are offering these links to balance our writings... The myth of Samhain: Celtic god of the dead and Samhain - The Final Turn of the Wheel
And we thank you very much for doing so! Love those Samhain goodie bag treats!
Another story in the news this week concerns a Houma, Louisiana ordinance that outlaws fortunetelling and the American Civil Liberties Union claims violates freedom of speech and religion. The latest suit challenging a fortunetelling ban was filed on behalf of Monte Plaisance and Anthony Foret of Houma. According to an article in The Advocate "Plaisance said he is an ordained minister of the Wiccan faith, which has its roots in witchcraft. He said he leads a 20-member Wiccan congregation in Houma and also operates a business in Houma where he performs Tarot card readings for members of his congregation and others on request. Tarot readings are an integral part of the Wiccan faith, Plaisance said."
Which brings us to our Pagan Perspectives' question of the week:
WitchVox Question of the Week!
Last week Pagan Perspectives offered a bit of a respite from the serious business of the struggle for Pagan equality. Thanks for chuckles...Ok, we admit it. You DID make us laugh!
This week's Pagan Perspective section is about that old bugaboo...
Money And The Craft is something that Pagans have wrestled with for decades. Are tarot readings and the like really a "part of the Wiccan religion"? Should we consider a "paid clergy"? What do YOU think about exchanging teaching, readings or clergy service for cash?
Click to Post Your Opinion or to view the Responses of others
It Was A Dark and Stormy Night...
And there you were, just strolling along the information pathway, when suddenly you are startled by the sense of some unseen force. It draws closer...you surf a little faster...still the hairs on the back of your neck begin to bristle...you are being followed...and as you look over your shoulder...there he is...EEK! It's Samhain, Lord of the Dead!...feeling anxious now, you turn into the first well-lit entrance that you see...push on the button...and find yourself safely inside at the home of...
The Ontario Consultants On Religious Tolerance. Whew! That was close! Anyone who has ever been stalked by The Myth of Samhain: Celtic God of the Dead will appreciate this:
"Almost all stories about the origin of Halloween correctly state that Halloween had its origins among the ancient Celts and is based on their "Feast of Samhain." But many contemporary Christian authors which are critical of Halloween, Druidism, and/or Wicca have stated that Samhain was named after the Celtic "God of the Dead." No such God ever existed. By the late 1990's many secular sources such as newspapers and television programs had picked up the error and propagated it widely.
Was/is Samhain a Celtic God? In a word, NO. The Great God Samhain appears to have been invented in the 18th century, before the ancient Celtic people and their religion were studied by historians and archeologists. The concept appears to be without merit.
In reality, "Sam" and "hain" meant "end of" and "summer" to the Celts. They observed only two seasons of the year: summer and winter. So, Samhain was celebrated at the transition of these seasons. There was no Celtic God named Samhain." (For more information and articles on Halloween and Samhain from this same excellent site, trick-or-treat yourself on over to Halloween: Facts and Misinformation).
As you continue along way, another safe 'home' you might want to drop in at is Isaac Bonewit's The Real Origins of Halloween. Isaac will let you pull up a chair while he explains just from where the 'Samhain, Lord of the Dead' fallacy may have originated. Putting that information into your 'goodie bag', you can then travel confidently on to The Mike Nichol's Home Page and The Y Tylwyth Teg Samhain/Halloween/Nos Galen Gaeof Page and The Celtic Connection Samhain Page for more Samhain-related 'treats". And what a treat it is to see the new and updated Witches' League For Public Awareness web site. It ain't just your old Momma's WLPA anymore!
Your Samhain cyber-pillowcase now bulging with useful information, you return home and begin to plan for your own Holiday celebrations-and maybe to think about writing a letter or two to help spread the word should you hear of anyone trying to resurrect that Sammy the Hain guy again.
Dottye Anderson Releases...
Hailing Aradia: A Wiccan Book of Shadows
The author and publisher presents an interactive book, with plenty of room at the end of each chapter for the reader to add their own thoughts, spells and rituals. You can email Dottye directly by clicking here was released two weeks ago.
A reviewer writes: "This new work by a new author gives some fresh insights into the religion and practice of Wicca. Clear, concise, well researched opinions, ideas and insights will intrigue and delight the reader, from the seeker of information to the intermediate Practitioner. Ms. Anderson has put together a collection of rites, rituals, correspondences and spells, with a different perspective than the run-of-the-mill genre publications that are so abundant on bookshelves today. Her unique perspective, derived from many years of her practice along with a fresh delivery of this information, makes this a wonderful read as well as a nice reference. The price is very reasonable at $8.95 and a portion of the proceeds from this book go to benefit a Florida Pagan Sanctuary, a nice touch for a newly published offer."
Copies can be purchased from Dottye directly, and from Merlin's in Tampa; Stone Circle and So Mote It Be in New Port Richey (all in Florida, USA)
Cats of the Craft...
Truly Magical Creatures... We are Indeed under Their Spell.
There is only one rule for the cats around our house... "What ever they want, they get"! Witches, Wiccans and Pagans do love their kitties. This is a fact to anyone that "has a clue"... yet it is that time of year again folks, and part of the annual "Satanic Panic Scare " (thanks Isaac) is to protect (black) cats FROM us. Give me a break! Although belief in this myth is starting to wear thin (even in the remotest circles) it is once again "seasonal sensational news". So, here we are, once again, addressing this issue at the Voice (see link to Wren's article just below)
The Annual Halloween Scaredy Cat Ban
We are once again proud to send you to Wren's "Annual Halloween Scaredy Cat Ban" article. This piece has evolved over the past four Samhains and is a permanent addition to our Samhain Pages. Here is an excerpt...
"Are there people out there who really do abuse cats and other animals? Yes, there are, but they are not Witches or Wiccans. The 'mysterious cults' that are mentioned (but are never really identified) in news articles about Halloween cat-related horrors are actually following in the footsteps of Christian clerics rather than pagan practitioners if they are using or abusing the innocent cat in some sort of bizarre sacrificial ritual setting...
The larger professionally run animal shelters know that indeed it is not the Wiccans/Witches who are doing the abusing. Thanks to all of the concerned pagans who have written the shelters, the newspapers and town officials during 'scaredy cat' seasons past, we have gotten that point across rather well.
It is instead the "thrill seeker," the wanna-be "satanist"- ala-Hollywood -movie- scripts or the emotionally disturbed individual who perpetuates such crimes against animaldom. We join with the animal protection agents in the hope that the people who abuse cats and other animals will be caught and then prosecuted for their heinous and cruel acts." For the Complete article Visit the WitchVox Samhain Pages.
Also check out our Cats of Witchcraft pages. NEW this week PAGE 17 of the cats of the craft... Do these animals look abused to you?
| Pagan Youth Speak Out!|
Pagan Teens Essays for October 2000
- God in the Shadows? We noted that modern-day Paganism has frequently been portrayed as a collection of "Goddess religions" and asked whether or not you felt the God had been downplayed in favor of the Goddess. As expected, this topic brought us varying, and occasionally controversial viewpoints, though all of our respondents agreed that the God was not getting equal time. Check out the God in the Shadows essays... Page ONE - TWO - THREE - FOUR
- Familiars: We asked what you think a familiar is, and whether or not you have one. Night Tiger, one of our regulars in the teen essay section, dispels the notion that Witches have only cats as their familiars, and introduces us to her boxer, Duchess. Check out the Familiars essay
For a complete list of Future Teen Topics: Click HERE ... For Adult Topics: Click HERE
NOTE: We are looking for suggestions for next years Teen Essay topics... If YOU have some ideas mail them to Diotima
Wren and Fritz can't thank the beautiful Dio enough for the help that she has delivered to us. She has been a gift from the Goddess and we are honored to work with her. Bless YOU Dio.
Network Status, Plate Glass Windows, and Frequently Asked Questions
(October 9th., 2000)
This Past Week... was one of much frustration. Due to the dramatically increasing traffic of Witchvox.net we made the decision to replace our tired server hardware with a Mac "G4". This was the easy part... Our (read: my) nightmare was related to a USB KVM switch (keyboard, video & monitor). This bad switch caused three nights of grief and two 3 hour periods of being down. Our apologies to those of you that couldn't connect on Thursday or Saturday night. The solution? I am presently looking for a 'plate glass window' to toss this Belkin KVM switch through.
The Witchvox.NET pages (WOTW, Wren's Nest, Links and Pagan Perspectives) saw another record week of submissions, especially in the area of EVENTS happening in your town. Surf to your area page for the latest additions and updates.
The International Major Festivals Page is back. In the old version of WOTW, we had separate pages for Yule, Samhain, Pagan Pride, Goddess 2k events and Major festivals. Since 99% of the listings ARE local in focus we made the decision to eliminate their separate pages. The exception is Major Festivals. They DO draw from a wider area and in many cases nationally. Although they ARE listed on their area events page, you can now call up a listing of *all* Major Pagan festivals.
For the Record: There are many things we take for granted here at Witchvox. We naively believe that because we have stated something a few times over the years that the word IS out. Recent email indicates this is not true. Apparently there ARE myths about who we are and what we do. We must constantly remind ourselves that we DO get thousands of new surfers here every week. So... For the record (in no particular order)...
The Witchvox staff does NOT take a penny for the work we do, never have and never will. The bullet list above comprises some of the misconceptions and myths about the Witches' Voice both on and off the web. We will cite others in the weeks to come.
The basic Witchvox staff is Wren and myself with part time help from Diotima, Peg, Christina and Steve. We do this work as a way to serve a community that we both love and respect.
The Witches' Voice is funded by the community ONLY. We encourage and accept sponsorship donations from those that deem this mission of value. We use these funds to pay for communication costs and for donations to events/situations in the community that need help.
Witchvox has no desire to enter into any commercial co-venturing schemes with vendors inside or outside of the community. We like the look and feel of a "No hustle, No Banner ads" website and after receiving thousands of pieces of email thanking us for choosing this 'refreshing' approach, we believe that this has been a wise decision.
Witchvox does not teach Wicca or Witchcraft, nor do we promote our personal spiritual beliefs on this site. We offer some of the more popular tenets to those outside of this community in an effort to help them better understand who we are and what we do.
Witchvox is ABOUT supporting and celebrating the work OF the local communities. We are constantly approached for interviews by some of the most famous publications in the world. We defer 85% of these requests to Witches', Wiccans and Pagans at the local level.
The Witches' Voice will never be about titles, degrees or fame. Our focus will always be related to the work itself. We live in a world of spin, idle promises and hype. It is our observation that the work will ultimately speak for itself.
The Witches' Voice IS a community effort, we don't pay writers or famous names for articles. Even *if* we could afford to do this, it's doubtful that we would do it. We are a site by the community... for the community. All are welcome to submit articles and always have been. Notable Pagans are encouraged to share their wisdom and experiences.
The 'pages viewed' stats on our splash page are indeed real. They have been faithfully culled from our server logs from day one. They indicate a running daily total of both Witchvox.com and Witchvox.net. Witchvox.com stats are added daily and WitchVox.net stats are only added at the end of the month. At present we are pacing at close to 35,000 pages viewed on a daily basis. If you prefer to work with the concept of "hits" (page elements) you can multiply that number by 5, if your preference is for actual visitors, divide this number by 5.
The Witchvox focus IS on the present day and the present way. To us everyone IS special and valid in their own personal beliefs. ALL you have to do to get "featured" here is to do something for the community. We don't care if you found this path last month or 25 years ago. We do "lean into" individuals and groups that consistantly work FOR the community. Current selfless work, for the good of all, means everything to us.
The Witchvox staff have no desire to impose our own personal morals on anyone. 'an it harm none, do what ye will' -- We DO maintain a strong sense of ethics. We encourage honesty and direct contact by anyone that has concerns related to what we do.
We have a rich history of answering 99% of our email on a daily basis (we sure have received a mountain of it). We do not participate in "he said/she said" gossip and do not respond to background bitching. Our email addresses are accessible via links at the bottom of ALL of our pages
All members of the Witchvox staff use their real names and are out of the broom closet.
The WitchVox offices are located in Clearwater, Florida in a small apartment (yes! we are poor renters like most of you).
We make lots of mistakes and don't mind it IF you point them out to us. We do live to render this site as accurate as possible.
The Witches' Voice offers Pagan Political Neutrality to those that practice the Rede, the law of three of a similar compatible code of ethics. We have no desire to referee local WitchWars (nor are we qualified to) BUT highly encourage those at the local level to learn from these lessons and realize that we are stronger when we are united. NO one or group is less valid on this path, many are simply different in their approach. Again, the work will ultimately speak for itself.
As always, our goals are to create solutions that are both valuable and useful to the Pagan community. Both Witchvox.com and Witchvox.net are here for your news and networking needs. Use them with our love.
In your service.
One of the Sheep - The Witches' Voice
Next Week at WitchVox... A Hot New set of Essays by Adult Pagans.
South East/Florida Pagans Get Psyched!
In an effort to get away from these "pesky appliances" Wren and I are honored to, once again, attend the Autumnmeet Festival in early November just north of Tampa, Florida. This will be our third time attending this festival and we couldn't be more thrilled. Wren and I are most excited to FINALLY meet our associate editor the magical and beautiful Diotima.
The Powerful line up for this year includes: Alexian & Seridina, Phyllis Curott, Harper Deluna, DreamTrybe, Bruce Fields, Fritz Jung, Diotima Mantineia, Madonna Moonhawk, Nybor & Elspeth of Haven, Greywolf & Briga O'Murchadha, The Raft, Orion Stormcrow, Trish Telesco, Wren Walker, Daniella Waterhawk and Don Waterhawk.
Note: If you can only get a way for a few days do know that day passes are available. For complete details visit the fabulously crafted Phoenix Festivals website. AND for a "feel" for this festival visit our 3 page review and pictorial of Autumnmeet 1999.
As you stroll along your streets and through the woods during the month of October, don't forget to look around you and enjoy the Bounties and Blessings of the Earth Mother. She is continually placing her gifts along our Paths. All that we need to do is to remember to look for them.
In Your Service,
Wren Walker & Fritz Jung
The Witches' Voice
Year 2000 - October 9th.
Location: Clearwater¼, Florida
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