Weekly Update: 6/4/2001|
Author: Witchvox Central
Posted: June 4th. 2001
Times Viewed: 4,444
|Living Through A Drought...|
Greetings Witches, Wiccans and Pagans,
This morning, the trip down to the little pond was like walking into a brand new world. Nothing much had really changed. As Wren tossed the breadcrumbs along the shoreline for the seagulls and the turtles, behind her the pigeons and squirrels were already devouring the seeds and the blue jays were looting the peanuts as quickly as their blue bandito wings would carry them. The Moor Hen and her Little Chick cruised along the shoreline looking for the entire world like a human family out for a stroll in the park. But something -something important-HAD changed. Yesterday, the rains came.
Florida and other parts of the country have been experiencing a drought. After four years of below average rainfall, our part of the state has a rain deficit of almost three feet. Fires are sparking up everywhere and water restrictions are in place. Florida is in a state of emergency. Every person and animal and fish and bird is affected. Life seems dry and dusty and brittle.
People who have embarked upon a spiritual quest can experience a 'drought as well. In fact, at some point it is almost certain that they will. What once was new and alive and exciting suddenly becomes a burden, a duty, and an obligation. Where once one rushed excitedly to each new coven meeting or public gathering, one's feet now drag all the way up the drive. Rituals seem empty and hollow and pointless. Just like the leaves on the drought-stricken willow tree, the spiritual life that once fluttered with vitality now hangs listless and limp. It is at this point that many Pagans may decide to turn back. They may once again return to a previously practiced religion. They may try another 'flavor' of Paganism hoping to rekindle some enthusiasm. They may attend every workshop within miles or retreat from all of the activities and connections that they once so enjoyed. They feel 'dried out' with nothing left to give. They feel as though somehow they have 'failed' or that the Gods have abandoned them.
They give up. They give up because they feel now that all of their previous ecstatic experiences must have been simply an illusion. They give up because they believe-in their drought-stricken heart of hearts-that they have made no spiritual progress at all. They give up because it has become so very, very obvious that this is not the right path for them. And they would be so very, very mistaken. It is at this very point-the place where the raging drought has burned up everything living within-that the most wondrous of transformations can occur.
Spiritual drought is not an unknown marker in the spiritual lives of other cultures or in the ancient religions of mankind. Indeed, the making of a new shaman often required a profound emotional, physical or psychological crisis. In the ancient Greek religions, the mystery schools often brought the new blindfolded initiate to a psychological crisis by subjecting the seeker to certain unexpected -and by our standards, often horrifying- encounters with strange noises, sensations or experiences. One either survived a 'night alone in the pyramid/barrow/cave' and then emerged as a genuine initiate--or one went mad. 'Going mad' is a thought that often crosses the mind of someone in a spiritual drought. It is part of the process. It is part of the initiation into a different way of being. There is no way to avoid the process if one is to truly advance on a spiritual path. No matter which religion or path you run off to in the hope of escape, if one is serious about developing one's spirituality (and not just going through the motions), it will track you down. It must be confronted. It must be endured. It will happen to everyone who sincerely strives to become a spiritually aware being. And it always sucks big time. Always.
Some Pagans have been through this process. More Pagans-because so many have entered the various Pagan Paths within the last five years-will soon be approaching that 'season of drought'. Lucky are those who have teachers or Priests/Priestesses who have experienced such a crisis themselves and can guide them through such a process. For those who follow a solitary path or do not have someone nearby who has already endured the 'dark night of the soul', it can be a very difficult and confusing time. For those, Wren would suggest two excellent books on the subject: 'The Stormy Search For Self' (updated as Spiritual Emergency) by Christina and Stanislav Grof and 'Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics' by Marsha Sinetar. It does help to hear someone say that you're not crazy. Wren can say, "You are not crazy'. She's been through it herself. She survived. You will too.
And as Wren walks back across the grassy grounds, the air is sparkling with moisture and the smell of wet earth wipes itself on her nose. The leaves on the willow bounce about on the small breeze like tiny pointed flags raised in celebration. The squirrels resemble damp frumpy little men who have been interrupted halfway through their bath and beads of dew perch upon blades of grass like so much carefully restored otherworld jewelry.
The drought is far from over. It will take several more months of steady rains for the land to become lush again and several more years of that before the underground aquifers are replenished. But yesterday, hope came down from the sky and kissed the land. Faith and endurance received their rewards. Don't give up. What you seek is seeking you. Maybe it will come today and if not today, then maybe tomorrow. But the rain WILL come. It always does.
The Witches' Voice Inc.
Anchor Photo: Although our preference would have been to place a powerful "drought image" in this position... We simply could not find one in time... This shot is a fave from the past and was taken in Salem, Mass in 1994 by Fritz during the filming of a TV special on Witchcraft for the Learning Channel Network. We don't own this expensive wand (borrowed for the shot) but believe it may be a Waterhawk piece.
| Making History at Heartland #16|
"A Very Spiritual Experience for all"
This is the height of the pagan festival season and from what we here at TWV have seen and heard, the forward momentum of increasing participation in such events shows no signs of slowing down. This week, Don Waterhawk notes his impressions of the 16th Annual Heartland Pagan Festival held at Camp Gaea just this past week.
"Daniella and I left for the Heartland Pagan Festival early on Monday. We knew that this would be another long drive, having just come back from the Texas CMA Festival a few weeks before. Being Merchants, we wanted to time our arrival so that we would be able to set up the booth early in the day. (Setting up at night is NOT a lot of fun!) The drive itself wasn't bad; it was dealing with the stuck thermostat on the car. Translation: We had to drive with the heat on all the way there. But it was a skyclad drive and all in all, it went well. We were relieved to enter the land site, Gaea Retreat Center, and stop at the entranceway to look at the beauty unfold in front of us as we entered the site. This is truly beautiful property, and it is a joy to see such land so well taken care of. Heartland Pagan Festival is held on the land lovingly owned by Earth Rising and the festival itself is put on by 'Heartland Spiritual Alliance'. We drove up the "mountain", (remember that Daniella and I are from South Florida...driving over overpasses gives us nose-bleeds!), and were warmly greeted by Aislinn FireHawk, who is in charge of the merchant area. We set up...or rather we hugged and set up...and hugged and set up... and this went on for some time. But we finally got settled in and started grounding for the festival to come. The first night was indeed wonderful... lying there and listening to the different drumsets throughout the camp during the night... I love that!" -- Click HERE for the full review with photos.
Next Week: Adult Essays ... Summer Solstice by Christina ... Free Mp3 Tune: Summer Solstice by Fritz Jung
| Isaac Releases eBook... Updates Cult Danger Evaluation Frame|
This Weekend, Pagan community scholar (Yes, we do have a few) and "Super Druid" Isaac Bonewits released an amazing new eBook entitled "Witchcraft: A Concise History or Which Witch is Which?" (now available from PocketPCPress and Amazon.com eBooks). This is clearly some of the best work we've seen in years and we are honored to call Isaac "one of our own". Thank YOU my brother.
(details forwarded over by Lowell McFarland - Thank Lowell!)
"The eBook is a succinct guide to the many ways the term "witch" has been used over the centuries, and includes a preface by Ashleen O'Gaea (author of "The Family Wicca Book"), a detailed recommended reading list, and an analysis of the standard ritual design used by most Wiccan traditions. It is the fruit of the author's over thirty years of Wiccan research and practice". Says O'Gaea, "Isaac Bonewits knows Wicca from the inside out, and in Concise History shares the definitions and distinctions he's developed from his intimate experience and original research. When you're talking about Neopagan Witchcraft, Bonewits is an author, advisor, and scholar you want -- no, let me be stronger: he's someone you need on your side".
"With Witchcraft: A Concise History, Bonewits has made it easy to understand Wicca's history and structure meaningfully. Beyond that, he offers one of the best bibliographies I've seen -- his reading list alone makes this book indispensable on any serious priest/ess' bookshelf. But there's something else that makes this eBook special, and that's how reader-friendly it is".
Noteworthy: Isaac is on a tear and yesterday he also announced v2.6 of his critical Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame. This famous document has been featured at Witchvox since our WLPA daze and, as of this writing, has been consumed 42, 256 times. This is a substantial upgrade and all sites that post this document ARE encouraged to update their versions.
Visit the Isaac Bonewits Home Page for details on this and much much more.
| Of Faeries and Feminists (New Article in our Gay Pagan section)|
by Jennifer Homan
"Traditional Neo-Pagan spirituality, while having its roots set firmly in autonomy, flexibility, anti-authoritarianism, and personal belief systems, has had a difficult time accepting the radicals within its ranks. The "radicals" of the Neo-Pagan movements are in my opinion, the feminist or "Dianic" witches, and the gay men's groups within the Craft, sometimes called the Radical Faeries. The fears and suspicions of these groups by the more traditional Pagans is not surprising when one takes into consideration that all of us, Neo-Pagans included, have been raised and encultured in this patriarchal society. Just as it is difficult for the general population to accept feminism and homosexuality, Neo-Pagans have their own qualms with these subjects.". -- Click HERE for the rest of this piece.
| Witch Cinema|
This new column will explore the world of movies (and occasionally television) that is particularly of interest to witches and pagans. Previews of Hollywood films, recommendations for films out on video and DVD, and loving reviews of long-lost classics in re-release, even news about upcoming productions; all these will be fair game for Witch Cinema! Here is a sample...
Opening this week!: Moulin Rouge
Baz Luhrmann's exotic, exciting new musical starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan Macgregor as young lovers captivated by the magic of 1920s Paris. This film is so visually stunning it is almost intoxicating. Some might find it a bit too busy, but I found it very enthralling to watch. The musical numbers are very creative, with dance numbers to contemporary songs by Sting, Madonna and Elton John, among others, giving this film an anachronistic look and feel that transcends any one time or place. The costumes and special effects are just about the best I have seen this year. What's pagan? Watch for a sequence early in the film, when an advertising icon for absinthe (The Green Fairy) comes to life! -- Click HERE for the rest of this feature.
| JUNE Teenage Pagan Essays Now UP!|
As we enter the 21st. century, one thing is clear, Pagan Youth will lead the way. They are embracing this spiritual path with a passion and conviction like we have never seen before. We are honored to feature the wonderful Teen Essays written by our Young Pagans.
Other Young Pagan Resources at TWV: WitchVox Teen Essays MAIN Index - Young Pagans in YOUR Town (6, 758 listed) - Young Pagan Covens and Groups (307 listed) - F.A.Q.'s of the WitchVox Teen Section - Teen Article Submission Topics! Make YOUR Voice Heard! - Teen Pagan Web Sites (267 sites listed!) - Click HERE to submit YOUR Teen Pagan Site.
- Are You A Good Witch Or A Bad Witch? (June 2001) "But, of course, Wicca isn't a real religion. It's a game that troubled teens like to play to anger their parents. Didn't you know that? Didn't you see that episode of Sally Jesse Raphael?" In this group of essays, teen Pagans speak out passionately on how difficult it is for them to be taken seriously in the face of media focus on the "bad Witch" stereotype. Once again, young Pagans give us all a lot to think about. Read these powerful essays here: Page 1 - 2 - 3 - 4
|Notes from a WebCrafter|
A Busy May, Pagan Auctions, Book Reviews and Profile Search
Greetings to all,
Allow me to start off this week's notes with a heartfelt thank you to those of you that offered me tech assistance related to my win/sql2000 system design questions at my day job. It turns out we delayed our 'going live' until the end of the month, thus giving me some breathing room. I learned many years ago that we have some true 'Brainiacs from Smartron' right here in our community. I am both proud and inspired by some many.
This weeks update is crammed with some wonderful features, articles, news and yet more 'earth based logic' from the Wrenanator. Putting this weeks update in place was a huge task and a few things will have to be put on hold until next week. Never the less, we did some critical enhancements and fixes over the week. Allow me to bullet point a few of them.
- Expanded Search: Thanks to a gentle nudge from Minerva Waters (The Lunar Shadows Network) this past week we added "search by profile" to all 1843 pages in our Witches of the World section. This is most valuable if you are trying to hunt down folks with interests or beliefs that may be similar to your own. Give 'search by profile' a ride from any of our WOTW pages (left side bar). Bonus feature: We have hot-rodded this search to display your search criteria as bold/colorized words embedded IN the results. This is more efficient to the eye when you are scanning the results.
- May 2001: Rolling in the Heavy Traffic: This past month was the second busiest month ever here at Witchvox. During May, TWV delivered 1, 524, 175 pages (7, 507, 525 hits) of information to seekers from around the world. Digital data transfered totaled 70.48 gigabyte. In an effort to end the hit/page view confusion, we have added both stats to our splash page. It's YOUR site and you have changed the world with YOUR magick. Thank YOU for building this site, Thank YOU for keeping it commercial/banner ad free and thank YOU for allowing us to celebrate this wonderful community.
- Pagan Auction Sites Expanded: After watching where Pagan auction sites were trying to list themselves it made sense to ADD Auction listings to our Pagan Merchant Pages. It is clear that Pagan Auctions are on the rise and this move simply made sense.
- Out of Gas: Too much to feature this week and frankly speaking we simply ran out of gas... Next week, look for a powerful piece on Summer Solstice by Christina and a free mp3 tune called "Summer Solstice" written by yours truly.
- Pagan Book and Music Review Sites Featured: Witchvox has never done Pagan Book or Music reviews (nor do we plan to at this point) BUT this IS done by over 37 sites on the Pagan Web. To experience the personal opinions of your brothers and sisters of the craft on Pagan Books and Music visit the new "Pagan Reviews" category over at Voxlinks Pagan Search Engine. Another option is to simply as the masses in any chat room what they think of a particular book or musician.
- Why Witchvox doesn't do Pagan Book/Music Reviews: Over the years, we have received countless offers from individuals wanting to post their personal opinion about what is "good/valid" and what is "bad/invalid" in both Pagan literature and music. We have little desire to allow any one individual to use the Witchvox stage (and its huge audience) to proclaim their personal opinion "above all" in this area. *If* we ever do Book or Music reviews, ALL opinions will be welcome and solicited.
We DO note new books and music from time to time, but this is always presented as news and is an effort to celebrate the work itself. True, we do post reviews of TV/movies, but this is done to note HOW our community IS portrayed in the general media. We do festival reviews to celebrate the gathering of Pagans all around the world.
Never let anyone in the community tell you what is the right music or book, only you can ultimately make this decision! Yes, the opinions of *some* of our elders do carry some weight (and should), but lets try and keep this in perspective. Fact: Many Pagans have experienced profound and everlasting inspiration from books and music deemed as "fluff" by some of our community. Many have started with "simple works" and gone on to be some our brightest resources. We all started somewhere and are all evolving constantly.
It is a fundamental Witchvox philosophy to work with the reality of what DOES move this community instead of what SHOULD move this community. We respect YOUR right to form YOUR own opinion (sadly, some don't want to allow you this courtesy)... We believe that YOU are smarter than *some* give you credit for. Ultimately it IS your interpretation of data that will effect your life the most. Consume and filter as much as you can and never stop reaching for the stars.
As always, our goals are to create solutions that are both valuable and useful to the Pagan community. Both Witchvox.com and Witchvox.net were created for your news and networking needs. Use them with our love. Always know that YOUR suggestions and thoughts are welcome, in fact this site has evolved FROM YOUR suggestions. Have a magickal week everyone!
In Your Service,
Fritz Jung (WebCrafter - Witchvox)
Monday, June 4th. 2001
| Some Pagans Duped by Virus Hoax|
This past week many were a victim of a ridiculous virus hoax. If you believed the hoax that stated you had a file titled "SULFNBK.EXE" and deleted it, you've been a victim of a this hoax, as was I.
Sulfnbk.exe is a Microsoft Windows utility that is used to restore long file names. You can restore this file by Clicking on Download Sulfnbk.exe , and simply save it to the "C:WindowsCommand Directory". (when the box appears just click on your C: drive and then open the Windows Folder. Then click on the COMMAND directory folder. Click save. It's that simple!)
For future referrence: Check out this Web Site FIRST when receiving any emails regarding viruses (as I usually do, and should have done with this one!) McAfee / Virus Information Library - http://vil.mcafee.com/hoax.asp Good luck! - Cj
| Nkosi Johnson (In loving memory)|
by Daniella Waterhawk
"Early morning, Friday June 1st, 2001 a young South African boy has died. This was not an ordinary boy, but a boy that was born into our world with HIV. At present the major pharmaceutical companies that provide the medicine that is prescribed world wide for the treatment of HIV and AIDS has made it very difficult for people like this child and many others that suffer the same affliction. The cost is to high.
So on this day, other children most assuredly have died, for that matter many people in general have died today, June 1st, 2001. Why is this child different? Nkosi Johnson lived his entire life afflicted with this virus. When he became of age he wanted to attend public school. Protests from the parents, students and teachers prompted the attention of the world regarding the issue of AIDS and the fear that is stirred up around uneducated people whose actions are motivated by it. Nkosi became an activists at a young age due to his surroundings and courage to stand up for what he thought to be right." -- Click HERE for the rest of this moving piece.
| Pagan Commercial Ventures -- A Correction!|
(Reposted due to a grave calculation error)
UPDATE 6/4/01: Two weeks back we posted a profile that revealed an substantial increase in Pagan commercial ventures on the net. This past week one of your email us noting a dramatic error in my calculations... Apparently I divided the increase into this year instead of last year, thus rendering a substantially UNDERSTATED result... This week I reran the spreadsheet and have posted it here... The increase in pagan commercial ventures on the net is 67% NOT the 40% that we previously state. Thank YOU Jan for caring enough to hit me with a 'clue by four'.
Over the past year, we have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of Pagan commercial ventures submitted to our VoxLinks Pagan Search Engine. Since I personally process all the listings, I couldn't help but notice this trend... Yet for months the question had been haunting me... Just how big IS this trend? Because this has been gnawing at me, I had to "run the numbers" (I live to analyze data). Since we save just about everything, it was off to a back up from last year at this time. Not quite a full year profile, but close enough.
What this profile does NOT include is local festivals, events, workshops or physical pagan shops (local event listings are up 67% over last year and actual local shop listings are up 12%). What this profile does include is all the listings in our VoxLinks Pagan Search Engine. Last year commercial listings held 24% of the total, this year they are at 34% and climbing.
What is interesting to note is the substantial softening of personal/non-commercial listings and the dramatic increase in Commercial listings. NOTE: In this profile we aren't counting personal sites that are doing an Amazon affiliate program AS a commercial site (although technically they are). It is worth noting that NOT being profitable doesn't make you a 'not for profit site'. The trend towards commercialism in the Pagan Community is actually more dramatic than I thought.
Since 1995: We can say with confidence that we have noticed and annual doubling of Pagan commercial sites on the web over the past 6 years. It's also worth noting that only a tiny fraction of these listings are actually making any real money. We highly encourage you to keep your money in the Pagan community by supporting Pagan commercial operations when you can. Buy your books from the Pagan shops.
* Other Ventures: This number includes; Auction sites, website hosting, web design, commercial healing, pagan travel, astrology, personal pages submitted as "commercial", some graphic sites and other miscellaneous ventures.
Variables: To paint the most accurate picture, one must always note any known variables... In fact, over the past year we have been more aggressive about cleaning up our links pages. A year ago we were simply testing the urls. About 6 months ago we realized that geo-cities and others don't return a "404 error" when sites are gone, they redirect to one of their promo pages. We made the decision to do email verification instead. To our surprise hundreds of sites were dead. We made email verification the procedure for testing links and we do this "ritual", faithfully, every 90 days. Point being; had we not adopted this procedure, we would still be listing close to 600 links that would be dead. Variable I: The 2000 totals are more than likely overstated by about 11%, rendering a higher differences in both the change and percent columns. Variable II: We have noticed a marked increase in removal requests from Personal Pagan sites that have been up for years and are now shutting down . Variable III: We have also noticed that many non-commercial community sites of the past are now commercial ventures.
For The Record: The Witches' Voice IS a non-commercial site and accepts NO compensation or "free" gifts from any vendors, shops or services with any implied obligation (This doesn't include Home-made cookies or Truffles). This enables us to promote products and services that we deem of interest to the Pagan community. We are not in anyone's back pocket nor do we have any desire to be. WitchVox is solely funded by sponsors! If you like what WitchVox offers, surf to your Area page and THANK your local sponsors, they pay for much of what you see here at TWV.
| Pagan Perspectives|
WitchVox Question of the Week!
Last week, we asked...
What's on YOUR Balloon? - Last weeks responses were interesting, funning and inspiring... It seems that Pagans, like most folk, are big on personal proclaimations. View the Responses.
THIS WEEK, we ask the question:
Do You Spend Money with Pagan Merchants? With the rise in commercial ventures in the Pagan community we just had to ask. IN THE PAST 6 MONTHS, what pagan merchants did you give your hard earned cash to? Was there anything that you needed? Are you all set? What did you buy? What are you planning on purchasing from Pagan Merchants? Do you buy your books from Amazon or from a Pagan shop? So many questions but the bottom line is ... IN THE PAST 6 MONTHS was there anything that is sold by the Pagan community that you are interested it?
- Post YOUR Opinion or view the Responses of others.
| In Closing... |
"Above all, we need to cultivate courage and fearlessness in the innermost depths of our thought life itself. We must learn not to be discouraged by failure. We should be able to think: "I will forget that I have failed again, and will try once more as if it never happened." In this way we struggle to the conviction that the sources of strength in the world that we can draw from are inexhaustible.. We must become capable of living into the future and not let any past experiences disturb our striving."-(Rudolf Steiner; How To Know Higher Worlds.)
In Your Service,
The Witches' Voice Inc.
Monday, June 4th., 2001
Location: Clearwater¼, Florida
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