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Weekly Update: 4/2/2001

Author: Witchvox Central
Posted: April 2nd. 2001
Times Viewed: 7,217

Superstition: It's Nothing To Sneeze At!

Greetings Witches, Wiccans and Pagans,

When the Spring and Falltide seasons come around, often there is plenty to tickle the nose: Yep! It's allergy time, again. The humble act of sneezing has acquired its own fair share of folklore and superstition. Most of us are aware that in this part of the world and in Europe, when someone sneezes, the 'proper' response is to say, "God bless you!" Pagans-feeling a little uncomfortable with that-might say, 'Gods bless you' or 'Goddess bless you' instead. But why we do feel that we have to say anything at all? Wren has tried to ignore it. If Fritz sneezes once or twice in the other room, she just turns the volume up on the television and gets on with her life. But when he continues to blow air out of his nostrils, she begins to feel a bit of tension build. Achoo! Achoo! Achoo! Not being able to drown out the sounds- nor having the intestinal fortitude to ignore them any longer- she'll usually break down into a (somewhat testy), "Well, Gods bless you, honey!" Wren has no idea why. Maybe it's a compulsion learned from my family. Maybe it just seems plain rude not to acknowledge those explosive nasal events somehow. Maybe it simply (and strongly) illustrates the power of superstition and folks ways to fashion some of the social behaviors of our lives. And one of the reasons that they have endured even into the modern and scientific era.

The urge/need/impulse/social pressure to respond verbally when someone sneezes seems to be almost universal. Many classical writers, such as Aubrey and Claxton, have reported on the practice. While some attempt to tie the art of 'blessing' to a story of a Roman emperor driving his chariot around the townsand blessing sneezers (I'd be thinking that an apology for kicking up the dust that probably made them sneeze in the first place might be more appropriate!), the silence on the practice in the years between the Roman Empire's rule and the coming of the Black Plague seem to point to the fact that the practice, while old, was not established as a 'superstition' until much later. Certainly during plagues and outbreaks of influenza and tuberculosis (consumption) anyone seen sneezing was probably considered contaminated already and in grave danger (no pun) of becoming deceased in the near future. 'Blessing' them was a nice gesture toward insuring some sort of spiritual comfort before running home and praying for the continuing protection of one's own mortal body.

The notion of 'sneezing the soul out' could be linked with not much difficulty to the fact that in previous ages a lot of what we consider everyday ailments were often fatal. Anyone sneezing could be checking out at any time. In any case, there are numerous 'ways' to interpret a sneeze. Certainly knowing the current pollen count might make such divination a little easier. And if your cat sneezes, "they" say, it's going to rain. Of course, if your cat sneezes after he/she just got finished rolling in your latest gift-pile of catnip, it is more likely that he/she is saying, "I really, really, really love you right now!" Don't feel too badly about the fact that your cat probably also loves every-other-one and every-other-thing right now as well. You've got more self-esteem than that! You know you're special to your cat. You ARE the only one in the house with the opposable thumb who can open up the can of 'Fancy Feast', right? Job security is a wonderful thing.

Herbal Remedies Are Not Superstition.

"Herbal medicine is as old as the human race and has historically been nurtured by shamans, wise-women and healers. A tremendous amount of empirical information has accumulated to form a nebulous system of "herbal medicine." Two of the most extensively developed are traditional Chinese medicine and the Indian system of Ayurvedic medicine." However, herbal remedies should be approached with caution and used only after doing the proper research. Herbals are widely available now in most pharmacies. Checking labels and going with a brand that does not add other ingredients or pesticides is preferable. Many U.S. citizens distrust the FDA's (Federal Drug Administration) stance on natural or herbal remedies and view it as one of hostility toward cheap natural (and therefore substances that cannot be patented) sources in favor of big pharmaceutical companies who enjoy large profits on chemical -based treatments. The proper stance, in our humble opinion, is to enter cautiously into the realm of herbal treatments and medicines by taking time to research independent studies (independent of both the FDA and the herbal companies) and by consulting with trained and/or knowledgeable traditional herbalists.

Some Herbal Remedies that may ease specific allergy symptoms have been scientifically looked at. Licorice and slippery elm "are what herbalists call "demulcents." They stimulate mucous membrane tissues -- such as those lining the throat -- to produce a protective coating of mucus. In the throat, a demulcent protects against the friction caused by coughing. That prevents further irritation, which in turn reduces inflammation. This should make the throat feel better, as well as make it harder for infectious bacteria such as Streptococcus to penetrate the tissues. Although very little research has been published on slippery elm, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies it as an effective demulcent. Licorice, on the other hand, hasn't been approved by the FDA. But researchers have documented its demulcent effects in the stomach and intestines and found evidence that it fights viruses and bacteria, reduces inflammation and allergies, and stimulates the immune system." For more information on the ongoing research into herbal alternative treatments, check out The American Botanical Council -especially the free articles online- and the Herb Research Foundation. Browse the Herbnews section for lots of good articles on the most current research. Blessed Be Well! Your health is nothing to sneeze at!

Tradition Profiles at Witchvox
(Viewed 29, 939 Times)

A Powerful Resource Gets Stronger

This week are blessed to share two new Pagan traditions profiles with the community. Both are well done and both are powerful in scope.

Black Forest Clan: The Black Forest Clan is linked, both by lineage and practice, to several other branches of Wiccan thought and philosophy, including the Caledonii Tradition of Druidic Wicca, Gardnerian, general Celtic Wicca, and German Witchcraft. Taken together, these meld smoothly into what is called "Euro-Witchcraft." BFC's initiatory line includes Gerald Gardner, Raymond Buckland, and Lord Serphant as well as Pow-Wow healing practitioners Gertie Guise and Preston Zerbe". (Full Profile)

Gardnerian Tradition: "Our tradition is named after Gerald B. Gardner (1884-1964), a British civil servant who studied magic and many other things over the course of a long life. He knew and worked with many famous occultists, not the least of which was Aleister Crowley (1875-1947). Gardner agreed with Margaret Murray's (1865-1965) premise that what was considered folk magick in Great Britain and Celtic Europe was actually the battered remnants of the original pre-Roman and possibly pre-Celtic religion of western Europe..." (Full Profile)

If you work within an established tradition, please consider writing something for us about it. We will accept more than one essay per tradition, so feel free to send us your own view, even if there are already others posted on your tradition. Please read the Editorial Guidelines page as well as the introduction on the Traditions page before sending your essay to Diotima.


Surfing the Pagan Net, New tune even more thank YOUs.

Greetings Witches, Wiccans and Pagans,

I am not sure when all of this will level out... The Pagan net by most accounts just continues to grow and grow. From everyone we've talked to it is clear that most Pagan web sites saw amazing increases in traffic in March. The Witches' Voice had its busiest month ever with a substantial increase in traffic - 1, 703, 782 pages viewed (54, 961 per day) on PCs around the world (witchvox.com = 570, 945 and witchvox.net = 1, 132, 837). Actual bandwidth/usage totaled out at 71.6 gigabytes of traffic.

Our heartfelt thanks go out to those of you that frequent this site and to the thousands of you that that have made Witchvox a community resource. YOU wrote the articles, trad profiles, offered comments, listed your groups, events, websites, shops and much much more.

Today marks the first day of our 6th year online doing community service. (On 4/2/1996 we launched the WLPA site and 9 months later the Witches' Voice). This weekend I made an effort to collect my thoughts as related to the Pagan net, what I like and what I don't. Things were much different in 1996 when the pagan net consisted of a few dozen very simple sites. My how things have changed, page quality is way up from those "Netscape gray" pages of 95. Quality design and depth of content is becoming the norm.

The Pagan 'Net... Surfing "Experience": The Pagan 'net has so much to offer and I, for one, am proud to be a part of it. With over 8,000 sites available, you can find just about anything related to the Pagan path. Over the past 5 years I have "experienced" thousands of Pagan sites... The following contains my personal likes and dislikes, my observations of what a site creator was trying to achieve and my perception of the results. Your experience may be quite different and, as always, YOUR OPINION is welcome. In fact, this week's Pagan Perspectives question is about YOUR experiences. (see details below)

My Likes: (Damn, there are some great Pagan sites)

Faces: The net is created by people, I love to see their faces and their pet's faces. Oddly this is a rarity on the Pagan net.
Look and Feel: This is concept that can be difficult to describe but it is that feeling that you get when you are at a site and love it. This is achieved by a combination of images, design, contrast and use of color.
Original Copy: Page/Site Authoring offers a wonderful opportunity, it is thrilling to surf the net and consume original work.
Original Images: There is much impact in this area. If you don't feel as though you are an artist (I know I am NOT), grab a digital camera and go for it. A picture really IS worth a thousand words in both bandwidth and impact.
Professional design: I love professionalism and don't forget it.
Bitchin' Flash presentations: They are rare but can be stunning when experienced. Flash is a great authoring tool and fun for the surfer that has a high-bandwidth connection.
Info on the Site Creator: I DO like to know about the person(s) that created the site. Tell me about YOU, let's see what ya look like and what YOU are into.
Regular Updates: The best way to get me back is to give me a reason as to why I "should" come back. Tease me with a taste of what is coming.
Workable Contrast: Light/dark text on dark/light backgrounds. Make it easy for me to READ your content and I will love you.
Attention to Detail: It's hard work to polish up a webpage and I appreciate the effort.
Great Navigation: Don't really care if it's on the top/side/bottom of the page but do care that it's clear and working
A Good Sitemap: Many times this is the best way to get a feel for bigger sites.
A Wonderful Sense of Humor: This is not easy to project on the net in that timing and inflection are critical elements. BUT, there are some Pagan sites that can pull this off.
Search Options: Good search ability goes along way with this Witch. I don't want to search your metatags, I DO want to search your page content.
Community Spirit: If the site REALLY cares about the community at large I am honored to call them brother/sister and am more likely to return.
Commercial and Proud of it!: As a 30 year retailer I actually love commercial sites that don't dance around this simple fact. There is nothing wrong with making money. Good products and good service = good value.
Polls and Surveys: Like everyone else I do love to offer my thoughts on various issues.
Regional Sites: These are most inspiring. On the net everyone wants to rule the world, it's refreshing to experience focused local agendas.
Traffic Stats: Tell us how you are doing... If you show lots of action, I will probably look around more.
Message Boards: Although I am not a 'chat person' per say, message boards are a wonderful community service for those that DO like to chat and I appreciate these efforts. The lion's share of many a sites hits ARE from message boards, they are a great way to get return traffic.
My Dislikes: (Hey, do you WANT us to return?)

Popout windows, ADs and surprise exits: I mean, how insecure can you get? A site claims that it wants you to check out another site, yet it lurks in the background hoping/forcing you to NOT FORGET them. "Popout window ADs" are even more obnoxious. Like many, I avoid Geocities, Tripod and Angelfire sites like the plague. Ever try to leave a site and have a surprise page come up? Give me a break and get me out of here.
Bad Java code: In an effort to do "something cool" (and usually useless) hack java code that crashes my computer is a guaranteed NO RETURN for this surfer.
Broken Promises: When I hit a page and it sez... "this page due up on "xxx" date", I actually believe them, BUT if I keep going back and the page never manifests, I can only think of the Webcrafter as a flake.
Broken Links: By my estimate, over 30% of the links on the net are broken, ANYONE can build a list of links, amazingly most don't seem to care if they work. Ironically, a good portion of our work in the Witchvox networking section involves testing and cleaning our 38,000 links and email addresses on a quarterly basis. Damn, if we can do it with this many why is it that most webmasters don't even bother?
Middlemen/women: "Click here and donate to a charity", "send us money and we'll see that it gets to those in need"... HOW ABOUT WE pick the charity and send them the money directly FROM Us?
Links and Credit pages: I can't tell you how many sites I've been to where these pages are listed but are under construction. After a while the message is clear, the webcrafter doesn't care about any site but their own. Good luck generating traffic. On several sites I have noticed the phrase "Obligatory links" ... Hey! don't do us any favors.
Banner Ads: Hate 'um, So do most surfers... They say that in '96 40% of surfers actually clicked on them. In the past year that is down to LESS than 1/2 of ONE PERCENT. Perhaps their impact is over stated? Ya think?
Pagan Fundamentalism/Hate Sites: "Fluffy bunnies suck", "We are the one true path", "Follow us or we will label you fools", "The Pagan community SHOULD..." - Yawn! Fundamentalism isn't pretty in any spiritual path.
More of the Same: Good goddess, there are so many original things that CAN be done, why is it that so many sites simply clone other sites?
No Contact info: We have had several requests for links over the years by folks who want up to put up something "controversial" (usually slamming those who don't share "their" beliefs) YET they don't want to offer their email addys... Sounds a like hit and run to me.
False Presentations: "Community Sites" that are actually a commercial marketing tool yet gloss over this simple reality.
More Pagan than Thou Sites: Condescending or demanding statements don't inspire me to participate in YOUR "drama" or "vision".
Secret Ancient Trad sites: On the net? Looking for members? Huh?
The first, the biggest, the oldest...: Who cares? Again, your insecurity is showing. Let your work speak for itself. Guess what? Only we, the surfers, get to validate these claims.

Free from Witchvox This month I am honored to offer yet another commericial free tune called Hold the Hammer... This tune is one of the two "slow tunes" from the Celtic Feast of the Dead project and arguably a throw away. Of course this is just my opinion, many disagree and do seem to love this one. For a listing of the free tunes offered so far visit the C.F.O.T.D. Page.

Thank YOU all for the magick that you work both in tara and cyber space. Until next week....

Fritz Jung
Webcrafter - The Witches' Voice
(April 2nd., 2001)



Saving Our Natural Resources, Healing Our Earth...

With Earth Day coming up later this month, here are a few projects, organizations and ideas on how we all can become involved in saving, preserving and protecting our planetary home.

The United Plant Savers' mission is to protect native medicinal plants of the United States and Canada and their native habitat while ensuring an abundant renewable supply of medicinal plants for generations to come. "We are witnessing the art of herbalism rapidly regaining its rightful place in the American tradition of health and healing. However, as herbalism flourishes and winds its way into the "main stream" of America, it is eliciting a unique set of problems and concerns. Where once only a small handful of people wildcrafted plants in the wild, ever increasing numbers are now heading to the hills."

"Where once herbal enterprises were few and far between, now the competition often forces one to focus on the need for larger production and greater diversity of herbal products, thus utilizing more plant resources. Furthermore, other countries with an uninterrupted tradition of herbal healing are experiencing a severe shortage of medicinal plants and look to the North American continent for supplying these herbs. This increased usage along with habitat destruction is causing an ever-increasing shortage of plant resources, including some of our most treasured medicinal species. " Pagans might find Culpeper-The Complete Herbal Online also worthy of a book mark. Along with the 'classic' herbal lore and information, you can get recipes and instructions here on how to make tinctures, decoctions, syrups and more.

The Happy Earth Day Coloring and Activity Book can be downloaded for children and at Earth Day at Kids Domain, you will find Earth Day songs, crafts, activities, cards and other cool things for kids. Earth Day Canada is one of the largest celebrations of Earth Day in the world and this year's poster is a real beauty! Check out Earth Day.org to find an event near you. The The Official International Earth Day web site has the history of the day by it's founder.

Saving a bone of the earth is what Stu Wilson (shown to your right) is trying to do in Scotland. Garnet Redstone writes: "I am writing on behalf of my Scottish friend, Stu Wilson, who is an employee of Stirling University in Scotland. He would have written himself, but is so involved with trying to save the Gathering Stone (shown upper left) that he just does not have time. He called me yesterday to ask if I would help and I agreed, as my husband's family has ties to the area involved. Stu says that there is no documentation of the University getting approval to build the rugby pitch, according to Lorna Main, the archeologist who researched the area for building approval. She says that she would not have given approval for the pitch in the area near the Gathering Stone. Stu has organized a protest for Sunday, April 8 at 3:00 pm, at the stone and would like for you to let everyone know about it. He has put out a call for all pagans in the area, as well as all Scottish Clan Chiefs to attend the protest. You can contact him at straiph@hotmail.com if you need more information. We would like to ask for pagans all over the world to join in sending positive energies to the protesters on April 8 as well. Thanks so much for any help you can provide! Bright blessings! Garnet Redstone, HPs, Sacred Oak Grove Coven, Charlotte, NC." An article published 2/21/01 in the 'Sterling Observer' outlines the current state of affairs in the on-going battle to preserve the site.

This JUST in from Stu Wilson (4/4/2001)

"Please support a peaceful protest rally on Sunday the 8th April, 3.00 pm onwards, at the site of the Gatheringstone (Airthrey estate, University of Stirling). The stone was erected in the wake of Kenneth McAlpine's defeat of the Picts in 834 AD which led to the unification of the Scottish nation. The university have been given permission by Stirling council to build rugby pitches to within 15 meters of the stone! At present it stands surrounded by rough grazing very much in keeping with its dignity and character".

"The press are already involved. Objections have been raised by myself to Stirling council, Historic Scotland, Alan Wilson (Scottish culture minister) plus the clans and their chiefs, for Scotland and our national heritage. So I ask for your blessed support on this day, to help in the cause of special stone and battle site". -- In hope and healing, Stu Wilson

The Plans to Relight The Bealtine Fires in Uisneach, Ireland Proceeding....

Although the current outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease is still a major concern, one way or another, the fires will be lit. "Dear Friends, Uisneach is the sacred site of the ancient goddess Eiru, from whom Ireland gets her name - Eire. It is the spiritual and physical center of Ireland. In ancient Ireland the land was perceived as being the living, breathing embodiment of the goddess Eriu. The rocks were her bones, the earth her flesh and the rivers her veins. Eriu was, and is, Ireland. Once a year at Bealtaine, or May Eve, a great Assembly or 'Oenach' was held in her honor on the Hill of Uisneach, in what is now Co. Westmeath, between Athlone and Mullingar. The 'Oenach' was a yearly renewal of Community, focused on Uisneach and encompassing the entire Island. According to tradition, all of the hearth fires in the land were extinguished on that evening and two great bonfires were lit on the top of this sacred hill as a beacon, a symbol of Eriu's eyes looking out over the horizons encompassing all that lived on her. These fires were seen as a centralizing spiritual force, thus ensuring the return of summer and the fruitfulness and harmony of the land and people.

The Fires will be re-lit this year at Uisneach and across Ireland on 28 April 2001 as a symbol of our connections to each other rather then our difference, as a sacred joining together in healing and in peace and in celebration of the Divine Presence in our lives. For more information on FIRE EYE see our website at http://www.fire-eye.org. Alternative arrangements are being made to move the site (if need be), in view of the current situation concerning foot and mouth disease, which is affecting the farmers and the land in Ireland. Please check the FireEye website on a regular basis for updates.

Your support with FireEye will help make this event a great success. The earth needs healing and we need healing, now more then ever before. We are encouraging people to perform rituals of solidarity on April 28, 2001; lighting fires (indoor or outdoor, physical or energetic) to connect with this great web of light we are reweaving; sample rituals will shortly be posted on the website. We also ask you consider making a donation to the project, either from your personal resources or from collections taken at solidarity rituals. Tax deductible donations is support of this year's FireEye events will be accepted by: Tumagain Community Arts Alliance (TCAA), 4105 Tumagain Blvd. East, Suite L, Anchorage, Alaska 99517."

Pagan Perspectives
WitchVox Question of the Week!

Last week, we asked, What Are Your Views on Abortion, Euthanasia and Suicide? - Individual choice concerning one's own body vs. the interest of society in establishing and maintaining certain behaviors was the common theme here. Many of you had split views on the three subjects, seeing some acts, such as euthanasia, as a more moral, ethical and personal choice than others, such as abortion or suicide. Some stated that all three acts were within the right of the individual to choose and others-stating that all life is sacred-that none of these choices should be considered as a personal 'option' outside the sociological boundaries set by law and public opinion. Whatever the view expressed, some eloquent and often very personal stories emerged and we thank you all for dealing with such emotional issues with such thoughtful maturity. View the Responses.

This week, we ask the easier and less emotionally charged (We think!) question:

What do you like/dislike to experience when you visit a Pagan website? - Please don't list actual sites you like/dislike, but rather what YOU look for, if you find it, and what you liked or disliked about the Pagan sites that you visited. What would you like to see more or less of? Do you make use of 'Book of Shadows' information, such as utilizing the spells or rituals in them? Do you want more interactive areas such as chat rooms and message boards? More scholarly pieces? Less pop-up windows or advertising? What makes you go, "Hurray! I love this site!" or grumble, "I won't be coming back to this site in any century real soon!" - Post YOUR Opinion or view the Responses of others.



Worth Celebrating...

The March Hares Project- a Smashing Success.
Today we were cc'd in on an email from Sia... "Thanks to your generous donations, we have received orders for 93 toys to send to children living in Battered Women's shelters in Northern California".

"A further donation of these particular toys by Krystal, one of our Bay Area Bards, has allowed us to offer a few more of these furry beasties, so it's not too late to buy a toy for a child, if you are interested. I will leave the March Hares order page open a while longer for those of you who meant to participate but were to busy before to do so. These toys are $5.00 each. This covers the cost of the toy and shipping. You can participate by going to our website (http://www.fullcircleevents.org) and clicking on the order form on the March Hares page on our site. You can pay by check, via PayPal or by using a Credit Card on our Secure Server".

The Life of Joyce Rasmussen
This week we received more info on the passing... "I am Lady Sedena (Tina Mendel-Rasmussen), I am Joyce's daughter Steph's life partner, and the High Priestess of HighTor. Thank you for the note about mom in the witchesvoice, the condolences are appreciated. We held a Memorial Service for all of Joyce's non-wiccan friends and family on 3/29/01. We will be holding a requiem for Lady Tara at the Heartland Spiritual Festival in May. One of the fellow covens in our area who were more than friends to us and Lady Tara presented us with this beautiful and appropriate memorial statement... (visit our Pagan Passages section for more info)

Plumbing and Polarity do not Equate
(New Article in our Gay Pagan Section By BlackCat) "In Witchcraft we look to nature around us for inspiration and for clues to help us understand the workings of the world. Although we may not understand the mechanics that make magick spells come to fruition, we still cast our spells and get results".

"In modern times, we are finding that science is confirming what Witches have held to be true for many years. Namely, that the objective nature of the world is one of flux, energy and change. In science, when matter is broken down into its smallest components, it is ultimately found to be energy. Now I am not a scientist, I am a Witch and I'll stick with the topic I know best". -- Click HERE for the rest of this piece.

New Network: The Wiccan/Pagan Net Alliance
For many years Silver RavenWolf ran an organization called the Wiccan/Pagan Press Alliance. We are starting a new network; an information based, free service to the Pagan On-Line Community called the Wiccan/Pagan Net Alliance where we will post community information. This area will be updated quarterly (more often if we can do so). Please send service announcement information only -- we seek quality in communication. If you would like your website, newsletter, journal, or organization to be listed as a WPNA member, or to list your announcements, please see instructions at the website. If you are a published author, you are also eligible to join. Again there is no membership fee. (for more info visit the WPNA Web page)

In Closing...

"I had strayed into a park, and I remembered how I lay flat on the grass, overcome by some enchantment flickering about a clump of daffodils. A little later, I read a child's story, and in this what fascinated me was that the hero had a magic sword with a hilt of silver and a blade of blue steel. The word "magic" stirred me, although I knew not what it meant...It lay in memory that word, without meaning, until a dozen years later it's transcendental significance emerged as a glittering dragonfly might come out of a dull chrysalis...And I have always shrunk from any activity in which I could not see that magic thing."- (A.E.; Song and Its Fountains.)

In Your Service,

 

The Witches' Voice Inc.
Year 2001 - April 2nd.






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