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Weekly Update: 12/25/2000

Author: Witchvox Central
Posted: December 25th. 2000
Times Viewed: 7,173

Mixed Blessings...

Greetings everyone!

Most Pagans still come from mixed families. Not all of our relatives are Pagan and indeed, for many first-generation Pagans, he or she may be the only Pagan that anyone else in their biological brood knows-assuming that they know that there is a Pagan in the family at all. So many of us this week will be with our bio-families partaking of Christmas hams, tearing open the poinsettia-printed-paper gifties and maybe even joining in the not-too-weird-for-us-to-deal-with carols 'sung by the fire'. Hopefully, we can all enjoy the Holidays for the wider and deeper themes which cross all religious and political lines: peace on earth and goodwill toward the guy that cut us off in traffic. Okay, maybe just that first one then. Whether you are Pagan or Christian, Jew or Buddhist, Atheist or Agnostic, Muslim or Hindu, Shaman or Shinto, we trust that your Holiday Season will be one of love, peace and general good humor. The 'good humor' part tends to be the biggie. Maintaining a sense of humor during what most Western psychologists denote, as the most stressful time of the year isn't easy. There is always something...

Hogmanay IS Really Something...
While many Pagans celebrate the New Year at Samhain, others define the end/beginning time as Yule at the Winter Solstice. In Scotland, it gets even quirkier with the strange custom known as Hogmanay. If the Scots ever needed a good excuse to party, this was it! (Wren's family comes from the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides. She assures us that even today in a Scot family 'any excuse' indeed will do!) Gie it laldie! Bring yer lump 'o coal -for good luck to the house or pub ye visit- and prepare to join the The Broons Virtual New Year Party! In some parts of Scotland, boys go from house to house singing traditional songs and leaving a blessing of 'good luck' upon the inhabitants.

One of the traditional folkways associated with Hogmanay is 'First Footing'. According to Hogmanay Origins:

"Hogmanay has always been important to the Scots. For many years it was customary to lavish gifts on friends and relatives. There is often the firing of canon (not usually at the same friends and relatives), and the sounding of ship's sirens to indicate Midnight. It is then traditional to leave your own house and visit (or "first foot") your neighbors. In doing so, it is important that you should take some gifts with you. A bottle of whisky, a lump of coal and some type of food. (Traditionally oatcakes, black bun or shortbread, depending on the region). Those who stay at home generally hope that the first person to visit them will be tall, dark and handsome. (This is thought to be a throwback to Viking days when blond strangers arriving on your doorstep usually meant trouble.) It was also the tradition that you should clear of all your debts before you saw in the New Year. This was to be a clean break, a fresh start."

Which brings us to that probably-secular-turned-religious-returned-to-secular custom: the New Year's Resolution. Most Pagans have already made their intentions, wishes for the coming year at either Samhain or Yule or both. It is inevitable however that they will most likely get asked about a New year's "resolution" at some point this coming week either by non-Pagan family/friends or at work. As a matter of fact, we here at TWV are going to ask you this week in Pagan perspectives! There are even New Year's Resolution virtual greeting cards available along with the more classic Blue Mountain e-cards. Who knew? A little bit of Auld Lang Syne comes with the opening up of the new calendar that you got for Yule. Probably because after all of the one after the other festivities of the last few months, the next official- off-from-work-holiday now seems so very far away.

Notes from a WebCrafter
Bardic Circle, a New Teen Look, Godzilla and Jesus

Greetings Everyone,

As I type this week's webcrafter notes, Witchvox central is filled with an interesting ambiance... Ya see, one of Wren's guilty little pleasures is basking in the magick of none other than "Godzilla" and his bad-ass antics. Although deamonized in the original film, he went on to become THE defender of Tokyo by fighting some of the worst creatures that the "dark side" can conjur up. It's worth noting that there is no such thing as a Godzilla movie on the TV; there are, however, Godzilla marathons. This way they can properly celebrate Godzilla and show his many personalities and accomplishments. So, if you hear me do any screaming in this week's update, it is only in respect to the G monster that has captured the hearts of so many.

Much magick from Witchvox this week. In addition to kicking off "Bardic Circle At Witchvox" (see feature below) we are honored to share other new stuff, weird focuses and celebrations...

New Teen Essay Pages/Topics: Inspired by countless concerns related to problems with reading "black background" pages for any length of time as well as printability, this past week we rewrote our ever popular Teen essay pages... Many enhancements were rendered in the process, including: teen specific article search, a crisp new look, quick "side panel" navigation, separate indexes for the past 4 years AND the release of Teen Topics for the first half of 2000 . Our own Diotima is the true magician for this hot section and has come up with some inspirational topics for the Young Pagan. Pagan Teen essays have been read close to 650,000 times since mid-97. The future of the Craft is in the hands of the Young Pagan -- So Mote it be! (Main Teen Essay Page)

Pagan Merchants At Witchvox: Last week, to much acclaim and a record number of hits, we introduced Pagan Merchants at WitchVox. Look for much expansion of this section of TWV in the months to come. Commerical Neo-Paganism is getting bigger by the day and we are honored to offer you both detail and selection. For YOUR online and offline Pagan spiritual needs visit Pagan Merchants at WitchVox (full article)

The Birth of Jesus Christ Guitar: By day, I work in the musical instrument industry for Dean Guitars, so naturally I keep up with developments. At an industry trade show a few years back the Fender custom shop displayed a beautiful Eqyptian design Statocaster guitar. It looked cool and offended almost no one. This past week the Gibson Guitar Company became the first guitar manufacturer to single out one religion over the rest (guess which one?). In a bizzare twist, last week Gibson announced a " Birth of Jesus Christ" guitar. This is quite a statement from a company that is known for rocking the world with their les Pauls over the past 40 years and sets an interesting "tone" for a guitar manufacturer. From what I can tell, they have no plans to put the "Birth of Jesus Christ" guitar into production. Although they are labeling this instrument as historical and are clearly nervous about receiving some flack (see It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ), they simply state "Let the artist interpret his beliefs." -- Apparently he has and with the Gibson name on the Headstock.

More Free Tunes comin!: A few weeks back I released the first tune from my 1996 release " Celtic Feast of the Dead" entitled Starwood (500 downloads to date). To date I have received many wonderful emails of support and thanks. They all ask the same question... "What is the next tune and when will it be released?" . Truth is I am not sure which one I will pick (I may even offer up one of the "cover tunes" that didn't make the CD). I will say that I should have the next one ready in two weeks time. Bless you all for your words of support related to this give-a-way. You have moved me deeply.

In closing, allow me to wish everyone a safe and magical calendar new year... My mother refers to New years eve as "amateur night" and right she is, be careful out there and stay off the roads. In Your Service

Fritz Jung (WebCrafter - Witchvox)
December 25th., 2000

And Then There Is That Wren Boys Thing...
Yep, Wren will be lying low again this year on December 26th. That is the day when the Wren Boys are afoot. According to the Celtic.Net Encyclopedia of the Celts: "Druids considered the wren 'supreme among all birds.' It was the sacred bird of the Isle of Man, which used to be a shrine of the dead and the dwelling-place of the Moon Goddess who cared for pagan souls.

It was the Druid King of the Birds and auguries were drawn from its chirping; in Celtic lore the wren is prophetic and the direction from which it calls is highly significant. The bird was sacred to Taliesin. In Scotland it was the Lady of Heaven's Hen and killing it was considered extremely unlucky; but in England and France there was a Hunting of the Wren on St Stephen's Day, 26 December, a ceremony which rose from an ancient pre-Christian rite. Hunters dressed ritually, killed a wren, hung it on a pole and took it in procession, demanding money; they then buried it in the churchyard.

It was associated with the underworld and these hunting rituals were connected with the winter solstice and the death of vegetation. In Ireland it was known as 'Fionn's doctor' and was hunted by the Wren Boys in much the same ritual as in Britain and France on St Stephens Day. The bird was representing the Sleeping Lord who, whether Cronos, Bran or Arthur must cede place, however great his reign. "

Hunting The Wren, thank the Gods, has become a symbolic custom rather than an actual feat these days. But it still makes Wren -and Wrens everywhere- just a wee bit nervous. It's a good thing that Wrens also happen to have some Friends in high places! "The wren's nest as said to be protected by lightning. Whoever tried to steal wren's eggs or baby wrens would find their house struck by lightning and their hands would shrivel up. Lightning was the weapon of the thunder bull-god Taranis, who often inhabited oak trees, and the wren was sacred to Taranis."-(Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm: The Druid Animal Oracle: Working with the Sacred Animals of the Druid Tradition).

End of the Year Treat: WitchVox Introduces Bardic Circle!

This week we are honored to kick off a Bardic Circle here at the Witches' Voice with two wonderful stories, two wonderful tunes by two of our community's finest. A Bardic Circle, to those unfamiliar with the concept, is a gathering of the clan to share stories, magic and music. This is best done in person, 'round a bonfire. With the advent of mp3 files bringing "quality" audio to the net, we can now do a "Bardic Circle", right here in cyberspace.

What we ARE doing is asking Pagan Musicians to offer an mp3 link to one of their tunes AND tell us the what, why, where and how they created it. The results promise to be wonderful and a treat for us all. YOU Get: a free tune, the story, the credits and the complete lyrics. -- cool eh?

Deciding which two artists to start with was an easy one. Both of these players are long time friends and actually sponsors of TWV (yes we do show favoritism to our sponsors). They are of the few that have put their money where their mouth is, they are directly responsible in helping us to keep Witchvox on the net. AND they are both great talents.

Gaia Consort: We Kick Bardic Circle at Witchvox off with an offering by Gaia Consort entitled " Secret of the Crossroads Devil". We have known Christopher Bingham and Sue Tinney for a few years now and had the pleasure to meet them this past year at the Heartland Festival (Link)... We just knew they'd be cool and they were indeed. Gaia Consort is a first class act with powerful vocals and top notch musicianship.

Darragh Nagle: The second offering is a tune called " The Realm" by Darragh Nagle. Wren and I celebrated the solstice with Darragh and his S.O. Kat (thank YOU). There are very few "proper" bards in the Pagan community (most are drifters/takers), Darragh IS one in the truest sense, gentle in spirit and strong with passion. Although a wonderful singer/song writer, Darragh has thrown us a surprise and offered up an instrumental piece. A beautiful composition and a riviting story.

Who Can Participate? Anyone with an mp3 file of orginal music can join in. So far we have 8 submissions for this weekly series. These are from some players that we personally invited to join us. AND, in true WitchVox spirit, earlier today, I invited ALL those listed in our pagan music section to participate.

Wren and I are thrilled to offer Pagan musicians and their stories. Look for at least one new Bardic circle performace per week for the unforseeable future. Join us is celebrating the music that we, as a community, call our own.

(Go to Bardic Circle Index)

Pagan Perspectives
WitchVox Question of the Week!

Last week, our readers remarked both on the results-finally!- of the U.S. election and on how their search for family roots was progressing. -- View the Responses to the election results and the Responses to the family history question as well .

This week, we want to know:

What is/was your New Year's resolution? Did you make a New Year's resolution? Have you made one before that you really kept? How about the one that you didn't? What about your cats? Did they promise to "not hack up furballs into your new suede boots" this year? Do you have some funny resolution jokes? What resolutions would you like to see OTHER people make? And if the Pagan community could get together (Yeah, Right.) to make one New Year's resolution, what do you think it might be? -- Post YOUR Opinion or view the Responses of others

In Closing...

The Staff of The Witches' Voice would like to wish all of you-both Pagan and non-Pagan alike- a very Happy Holiday Season. As you go visiting friends and family, may you travel safely and enjoy your journey. As you enter the doorway that leads to the warmth of your loved ones- and when you return home again- you can share this old Highland Hogmanay Blessing: "May your Gods bless this dwelling, Each stone and beam and stave, All food and drink and clothing. May good health you always have." And these are also our good wishes for you in the coming calendar year.

In Your Service,


Wren Walker & Fritz Jung
The Witches' Voice
Year 2000 - December, 25th.


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