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Weekly Update: 6/18/2001

Author: Witchvox Central
Posted: June 18th. 2001
Times Viewed: 6,410

The Natural Balancing Act of Predator and Prey!

Greetings Witches, Wiccans and Pagans,

The white egret seems a little embarrassed lately, Wren noticed. Perhaps it is because he finds a human presence at his lunch counter a bit strange. Perhaps it is because Wren often tells him, "Give it up, dude. You're just not all that good at it." And so, perhaps it is because he doesn't like being rated on his fishing technique. ("Well, if he can't take a little constructive criticism..." she mutters to the turtles.) But there is no genuine rancor in either Wren's remarks or in the posture of the egret for obviously the big white bird is very much an effective predator. He was designed by Nature with a six-inch beak just to spear fish. He also has learned that he was not designed to spear fish that are bubbling up the water in a feeding frenzy when Wren tosses out the fishie food. After a few comical tries at staccato- stabbing the water- Oh, here's one...oh, there goes another one...oh, oh, here's some more!- he quickly learned that a fish-feeding-frenzy amounts to just 'too much information'. Since then, Egret has gone back to what he knows best- the stealthy stalking, the zeroing in on one single target and then the incredibly quick strike. Sometimes he gets a fish breakfast. And sometimes- as in all predator/prey dramas- it is the prey that wins.

The relationship between predator and prey has interested humans since the beginnings of our existence. The earliest cave paintings found in various parts of the world depict both predator and prey animals. Within a very short time of these most primitive drawings, another form began to appear on the cave walls: a human figure either dressed in animal skins and wearing antlers or a human head superimposed upon an animal's body. Since our most ancient Ancestors left no captions beneath their artwork, researchers can only speculate what these animal-human forms might mean. But both archaeologists and anthropologists are fairly certain that these figures represent perhaps the earliest emergence of the spiritual expression known as 'shamanism'.

Shamanism may be the universal 'common denominator' present during the births of all of the ancient religions yet known to have existed. Elements of shamanic expression can be found in the myths and legends of nearly all of the peoples of the world. These remnants show themselves in fairy tales and metaphors and in the heraldry symbols of families, clans and even of nations. One distinguishing feature of shamanism is the use or recognition of 'totem animals'. Much has been written in books and is available on the internet concerning the various techniques of 'acquiring/meeting' a totem animal and of the qualities/attributes of the various animal spirits and so Wren will leave the reader to do their own research into this area. Since Wren has only bought one modern book about totemism- which she quite promptly tossed unceremoniously into the trashcan- she doesn't know how many of these resources touch on an important element of totemism which she was taught: In the natural world, the bond between predator and prey is essential. In the spiritual world, it is the same. When one 'adopts' a predator animal as a totem, one automatically adopts its prey animal as well. Undoubtedly, this may be horrifying news for all of those 'Big Bad Wolfboys' out there in Paganland. But that's just the way it goes. And those of a gentle nature who respond to the iridescent beauty of a Hummingbird or the cheerfulness of a Chick-A-Dee may be more than disconcerted when they discover that they also have a real 'Tiger in their spiritual tank'.

Much criticism has been leveled at the Pagan communities for 'stealing' the shamanic elements of Native Aboriginal tribes. Some of this is indeed warranted when modern Pagans take what is essentially a cultural aspect not their own and simply use it as though it were. More respect might be requested and ultimately granted on both sides if Pagans really knew what they were looking for in these Native Traditions. Because our own mainly European shamanic roots were forgotten, glossed over- or even overwritten- by newer religions, modern Pagans are looking for clues that may lead them back to those practices. While the living European shamanic roots lie in the mists of many centuries ago, the Native American and Australian Aboriginal systems were still up and operating only a few hundred years ago. Many continue in some form to this day. It is indeed natural for modern Pagans to look to the most accessible material available in the quest to rediscover and recover their own spiritual shamanic heritage. But it is rude and arrogant to simply take what is currently available and claim it as one's own. Surely we can ask Native Elders to help us- to use a commonplace metaphor for a spiritual concept- 'learn how to drive'. But we should also make it clear that we are not coming to steal their car. When we're ready to drive, we'll get our own vehicle.

Predator animals and prey animals keep Nature in balance. So it is with the spiritual totem animals. Understanding that one can't have one without the other should be a 'no brainer' for any who follows a shamanic or earth-based Path. Predators need to feed on something to survive. Prey animals need predators to weed out the sick, lame, too young or too old animals in order to keep populations in balance. If either the 'predator' side or the 'prey' side go out of balance, the entire eco-system will collapse. And so it is with the spiritual life.

For every Bear dwelling within a person, there is also a Salmon. For every Wolf, there is a Rabbit hiding in a spirit hole. For every Mouse, there is a Snake and for every Snake, there is an Eagle. Within humans, there exists strength and weakness, aggressiveness and submissiveness, good and evil, predator and prey. Some of the 'darker things' that many Pagans sometimes feel creeping up on them-that side of us that we often call the 'Shadow Self'- may be nothing more than our own unacknowledged opposing-yet-complimentary predator or prey animal. Many a shamanic Pagan who embraces a 'Bear' or a 'Wolf' totem may find that the 'Rabbit' within is apt to give them a good psychic 'kick in the gut' bout of insecurity or illness now and again just to remind them that they are there. Many a 'Hummingbird Gazelle Girl' may find that there is indeed a raging 'Lion' of anger or frustration nipping at her spiritual heels for some attention. Likewise many a 'Tiger' has snarled his/her challenge to a Fluffy Bunny only to discover (much to his/her shock and surprise) that little old 'Buns' really has the alter ego (and alternative totem animal) of a 'Kodiak Grizzly Bear'. Oops! THAT'S gotta hurt!

And then, there is the third group (Wren is ever the Celt and there is ALWAYS a 'third thing') of totem spiritual animals: the Scavengers. The Crows and the Ravens and the Jackals and the Vultures are part of the predator/prey dance and yet outside of it at the same time. Lurking on the fringes of the life-death drama, Scavengers exist-both in the natural world and in the spiritual world- for one reason and one reason only: to clean up the mess. Often depicted as the 'Trickster' animals, the totem Scavengers will show up in your life on those days when everything just 'stinks'. You may have had a fight with someone or done something dishonorable or NOT done (Procrastination is considered a delicacy to Scavengers, by the way.) something that you promised to do. Suddenly everything starts going wrong. You're cut off in traffic. Your cellphone dies. Your significant other just doesn't want to hear about it. The very last person that you want to talk to rings you up with a big problem just as your favorite television show comes on. Your check bounced- again. Well, HELL-ooh Tricksters!

You want to get those Trickster Jackals out of your life? Stop carrying that stinking rotting carcass of resentment, of hatred, of procrastination, of old 'wrongs' around on your back. Is there some 'Scavenger' always sniffing around your personal sore spot? Pushing your buttons? Maybe they are trying to tell you that it's finally time to scrape off that old decomposing bit of psychic or emotional carrion that you've been dragging around with you for years. Resolve it. Get therapy. Let it go. Drop it. And the Scavengers will lose interest and simply go away. Poof! No mess, no Scavengers. Nature is a pretty clever Teacher, eh?

The natural world is in a continuous balancing act of channeling predator and prey and scavenger energies. Humans as part of Nature mirror this same eternal struggle for balance within ourselves. The totem animal spirits have much wisdom to share with us. Knowing when to call upon the predator or the prey animals- knowing when to fight and when to flee- is a lesson in wisdom. One can call upon predator energies for strength and courage as needed as long as one also realizes that the predator does not always win. (If the predator spirit is not right for your situation at the time, you can well go hungry.) And when gentleness or compassion are called for, one has an alternate prey animal to engage- as long as one also realizes that occasionally bunnies do in fact get eaten. (Sacrifices are sometimes necessary.) Nature is wise. Learning to balance these forces within us; learning to recognize when to be strong and push forward and when to be passive and stay in one's burrow until things blow over can help us to become wise as well.

Sniff! Sniff! Oh, yeah... and always, always remember to clean up your mess.

Walk in Love and Light,

Wren Walker
The Witches' Voice Inc.

Predator Photos: ... The anchor photo is of Jasmine from Homestead, Florida. I know it looks like he was pissed... Trust me, he WAS pissed. Middle shot: Beast 'Wanna be'... our own Ruby... as a little gurl. (photos by Fritz Jung)

Ellen Cannon Reed Battling AML Leukemia
A Nice Phone Chat with a Famous Witch

Earlier this past week Wren and I took a chance and called Ellen in the hospital and to our joy and surprise she was available to chat. She was in wonderful spirits and VERY positive about battling an awful disease. She has been diagnosed with AML Leukemia (see www.leukemia.org for more information)... Our "read" on Ellen was that she is clearly a fighter and that she will beat this. We reminded her that she has hundreds of thousands working healing magic for her and that she is missed, loved and respected.

Today we received this info from Katzedecimal

"Well, we know for sure that people have been wishing Ellen well because her email box is now rejecting everything :chuckle: To address this little hiccup, one of our #witchcraft ops, Bearcloud, has created a website, Wishes4Ellen. It can be found at http://wishes4ellen.8m.com and it features a guestbook and message board. Ellen hasn't been online today, but she was online yesterday and complaining grievously about the food -- this means she's doing well ^.~ Is mise le meas -==- Katzedecimal

The Witches' Voice would like to thank Katzedecimal, Bearcloud and Willow Blackthorn for doing the ground work to keep us all informed on Ellen's condition.

Wicca to be Highlighted THIS WEEK on Prestigious PBS Series

This week, for the first time, the award-winning PBS series "Religion and Ethics Newsweekly" is scheduled to air a segment on the religion of Wicca. Religion and Ethics Newsweekly is a nationally televised half-hour news program dedicated to comprehensive coverage of religious diversity and ethical issues in America.

June 18th UPDATE: PBS has just posted a teaser on their website... Click HERE for the overview.

While the content of the finished segment is not known, according to those interviewed, objective questions on various subjects---including Wiccan theology and practices, discrimination, and teen interests---were discussed. Among those interviewed were renowned Wiccan High Priestesses and authors Margot Adler, Phyllis Curott (bookofshadows.net), and Patricia Kennealy-Morrison (lizardqueen.com). Additionally, the crew filmed the annual public Beltane celebration in Central Park sponsored by New Moon New York (WEBsite) and a private ritual at the Temple of Ara.

This segment is scheduled to air on Channel 13, WNET, in New York City, on Sunday, June 17th at 6:30 pm. For dates and times when this nationally syndicated series airs on other PBS stations, check your local listings or the Religion & Ethics Newsweekly web site.

For additional info contact Kirsten Rostedt RLLNHQ@aol.com

The Powerful "I Am" Project - Educating the World.

"The I Am Project is an effort to introduce Pagans to their elected officials in local, state and federal governments. The Project works like this - Pagans from across the country get a postcard that has a picture of their city, favorite local museum or other local scene and write on the back "I am a Pagan ____." The blank can be anything like Mother, Son, Veteran, Banker, Cook, Teacher, etc.

The "I Am..." Project is a way for you as a Pagan to introduce yourself (along with thousands of other Pagans) to your elected officials in local, state and federal governments. For the maximum psychological and political impact it is requested that all who participate in the "I Am..." project please follow the simple guidelines as outlined below. Also feel free to direct any and all parties who may be interested in participating in this important effort toward public awareness of Pagans to the the official online "I Am..." press release page or forward on the press release in .pdf format. Feel free to print it out to distribute offline as well!

Read the full details of this important project by Clicking HERE

Teen Pagan Group Does the Work!
Educational article in a Beaumont, Tx. Paper

Our community has worked hard for over the past 20 years to educate the public as to what we are and what we do. This past week a group in Beaumont, Texas educated their area with a very positive article in their local paper. This week are honored to celebrate this at TWV! Bless YOU Dan, Robbie and your group for this work. Some excerpts....

Robbie Campbell, 17, is a teen-age witch - and he's sick of the "Sabrina" jokes. "No, I don't have a talking cat, " he said of the popular television series. "And don't get me started on the 'Blair Witch' movies or I will hurl."

Dan Christopher's, 20, uses both the wand and the crystal ball for Wiccan ceremonies and practices. The wand and ball are used as symbolic tools to dramatize rituals. He is a member of a local coven of twenty young Wiccans, ranging in age from 16 to 25. "That's just fantasy, but witches are real, " said his friend Dan Christoffers, 20.

The young men are members of a local coven of 20 young Wiccans, ranging in age from 16 to 25. They refer to themselves as witches and gather for rituals called circles to celebrate pagan holidays centered on the phases of the moon.

Historian Gerald Gardener established Wicca as a religion in 1954. Also known as the Craft, Wicca is a nature-based polytheistic faith based on ancient Celtic, Greek and Norse traditions.

Check out the Full Article.

Article Credits: Article by Brent Snyder... Photos by Jennifer Reynolds.
Dann & Laurie's Shop: For more info about Dann, Robbie, and their group surf to the Ancient Hollow Shop Online

Notes from a WebCrafter
Plans for Witchvox.net, Reclaiming sites featured and a request for YOUR HELP!

Greetings to all,

With Mercury retrograde, communication has been shaky in many circles. Our biggest frustration, of late, has been the spotty and 3x downage of the Witchvox.net server connection. The Witchvox.net server delivers between 3 and 4 million "hits" a month (roughly 1 million actual page calls) and to hundreds of thousands it has become a lifeline for people, groups, events and announcements in our community... It makes us crazy when it goes down and in the past three weeks it has gone down 3 times (each time for about 6 hours)... Yesterday it went down AFTER rendering near unusable performance for most of the weekend. Today it working fine.

Witchvox.net vs. Witchvox.com We host the front end of this site and about half of it's pages via Witchvox.com. This domain is hosted faithfully by Drak.net, rarely goes down and is done a very fair price (related to the 38 gig of traffic we generate JUST for this domain)... We process another 30 plus gig of traffic at witchvox.net and this domain is where all of our dynamic data is processed (WOTW, Wren's Nest, VoxLinks etc.).

Present Problems: There are two problems that effect the performance of witchvox.net: 1) The actual connection (presently ADSL gold/784 upstream - averaging 275k) and 2) The "backend" database isn't multi-threaded, hence a bottle neck for requests (all pages at Witchvox.net are 'database' fed).

Our Current Plan: To address issue #1 we are considering going with a business class cable connection for a more consistent "pipe" ... This is of course unless YOU have a spare T1 line you'd like to toss our way. We are fed up with our ADSL connection and it's "all over the place" performance. NOTE: For our personal connection, both Wren and I have shirred a Road Runner cable connection for the past 3 years. The RR performance has been excellent. The good news is that RR is FINALLY addressing business class needs and has become a bit more realistic about the price of static IPs.

THE PRICE? Currently we pay 225.00 mo. JUST for the "high end" ADSL connection that serves half of this site... a proper RR business class connection with a static IP will run us 300.00. DO know that we generate over 30 gig of traffic JUST at Witchvox.net and before you email us about a better deal... do serious consider this bandwidth reality. In our 5 years online we have checked out all offers for "unlimited bandwidth" sent this way. EVERY ONE of these offers were essentially a lie.

To address issue #2 we will be converting our backend database to a MYSQL structure and most likely our webserver to Apache via OSx on the Macintosh. This should all but eliminate the bottle neck of YOUR requests for info on this server. This also enables us to develop skills in the Unix area, essentially offering us many alternatives for hosting. Time Frame: mid to late summer.

IF I had php or asp skills we'd be renting a server. I DON'T have this skill set at present and after comparing the time and "bloat code" involved with both asp and php I have little desire to leave the Lasso Middleware architecture that is both user friendly and lean in code.

The Future: The biggest frustration with Witchvox.net is the fact that its design and features have been on hold for most of the year. This is directly due to our limiting the amount of data we call when you hit a page. We have literally hundreds of ideas on making this entire site interactive via countless portals. It's important to note that Witchvox doesn't use ANY 'canned' or 're-colored' CGIs ... Like this spiritual path, we are home grown and do write ALL our own code. This gives us something that CGI programs can't... The ability to design whatever we/you need/want. Ideas we have never been short on, hard and consistent work we have never been afraid of... with the resolution of the above 2 problems we will FINALLY be able to make Witchvox the site we have always dreamed it could be.

TIP: Test YOUR Connection: One of the better sites for testing YOUR download speed can be found at MSN.com

In other Witchvox News...

Reclaiming Sites Featured at VoxLinks: Our Links Engine "Voxlinks Pagan Search" is in a constant state of evolution with rewrites, more powerful search features and bi-daily updates as the norm for over 5 years... As a particular "type of site" grows we eventually pull it out and feature it ... Last week is was Asatru sites and this week we pull out and feature "Reclaiming Web Sites".

WitchVox Local Shops Clean UP Part II Back in 1996 many local shops didn't have an internet connection so we asked the community to help and list stores in their area. This coupled with the stores listing and updating their data has created one of the largest Pagan "brick and mortar" shops listings in the world. Trouble is, since many of the listings were submitted by "fans" of the shops, email verification would have been spurious at best. Of late we have received some angry email from folks that went to visit a shop and it was GONE. Actually blaming us personally for the shop not being there (give us a break!)

This Week: We continue to ask for YOUR HELP to make us all aware of any shops in your are that may have shut down.

The Clean up Plan for local shops is as follows:
  1. Removal of Improper listings: Last week we took a more aggressive approach to our most recent update of this data... We scanned for listings with PO boxes and those no address... These listings have been removed. We are considering removing listings that offer no community services (workshops, networking, Tarot readings, open circles etc.). If a shop is NOT Pagan/owned and run or show little care about the community and exists merely to hit on our market we have little desire to promote them.

  2. You can Help us! No one knows the status of local shops better than you do... Check out the local shops in your area and let us know which ones are NO LONGER IN BUSINESS by emailing us.

  3. New Policies for Physical Shop Listings The ONLY section over at Witches of the World that we don't verify (via email) is our local/Physical shops listings... In two weeks we will start doing just that. NO working EMAIL... No Shop Listing (Bounced email will render the removal.)

  4. Attention Physical SHOP Owners: Feel free to update your listings (if necessary) via our Local Shops Submission form. If the email addy you have listed is working you should receive our verification in two weeks. You don't need to respond to this verification unless your shop is history and should be removed.

The 4 step plan noted above will NOT EFFECT Pagan ONLINE shop listings, these listings will continue to be verified every 90 days as they have been for the past 4 years. Pagan "brick and mortar" shops are a critical aspect of our community, we are honored to list them and soon you (the consumer) will have not only the largest Pagan shop listing in the World BUT one that is "correct and for the good of all".

Fires at Solstice 2001: This Weekend, Wren and I will have the privilege of spending the day (Saturday 6/24) with our cherished friends at Fires at Solstice 2001 in Land of Lakes, Florida. We will be doing a workshop on WitchWars and look forward to seeing you there... Cash for Reading Witchvox If you tell them Witchvox sent you, you can receive a $10.00 discount for full event or a $5.00 discount for Daypasses. For more info check out the Fires at Solstice 2001 link on the Florida Events Page or visit the Phoenix Festivals Home Page.

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 18th. 2001


Summer Solstice...
by Christina Aubin

"Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you." -- Maori proverb

Summer Solstice falls at the precise moment when the Sun's power is at its zenith. It is the time of year when the noon sun appears to be farthest north from the celestial equator. "Solstice" is Latin for "sun stands still" (sol "sun" and sistere "to stand"). Summer Solstice is so named because to the naked eye the sun appears stationary in its northern and southern progression. The sun is directly over the tropic of Cancer at the summer solstice, at which time the sun is 23¡27' north. The sun travels 23.5 degrees to reach its maximum distance from the celestial equator during both the summer and winter solstice.

It is the longest day and shortest night of the year. From the moment of Summer Solstice, the Sun immediately begins to wane. The journey into the harvest season has begun.

Midsummer has been one of the important solar events throughout the evolution of humankind. It was an indicator that the year was about to begin waning, thus winter would be again returning. Although not all the ancients were as precise in the calculations from an astronomical point, you can be sure that they were keenly aware of the sun's progression, and did most assuredly know when Solstice was upon them, as the sun appeared to stand still in its northern progression.

Click Here for this wonderful piece and powerful set of reference links.

Our Gift to You for Mid Summer

For June 2001 we are honored to offer a timely holiday tune entitled Summer Solstice...

This tune was written "on demand" in 1995, a week before our mid-summer solstice celebration in Salem, Massachusetts and then performed live with Michael and Therese Pendragon in Circle. Those were good times and the audience was "merciful" of what was clearly a newly written tune.

I have always liked the way this tune came out. Perhaps it's the "on top of the beat" feel of the drum part, perhaps it's the driving rhythm guitar part... I am not sure, but I am quite happy with the way this tune feels. Summer Solstice is one of two Pagan holiday songs that I wrote during these sessions (look for a Samhain song this October) and I project that i will, someday, write tunes for the remaining 6 holidays.

Lyrics: The words to this tune were dashed off quickly for the performance but ultimately tweaked up by Wren It is worth noting that the line "Toast the Faeries" means to celebrate NOT "Toast like marshmallows". Thanks Wren for the important words that you added to this piece.

Music: Instrumentation was pretty strait forward and simply contains; two guitar parts (on the '64 Martin in the photo above), a bass hook executed on an Ibanez Rb800 and the drums were recorded live buy yours truly playing the part on my computer desk and then later replacing the "thumps" with hot drum samples.

Check out the FREE mp3 tune at the "Summer Solstice Page"

Pagan Perspectives
WitchVox Question of the Week!

Last week, we asked...

Who Do You Trust? - "Only those who have earned it" seems to be the dominant response. Family members are the ones that many seem to trust the most, although state that a sense of personal trustworthiness is something that one must develop within oneself first. Betrayal of trust is often depicted as one of the most despicable-and potentially unforgivable-actions that one human can inflict upon another. Trust does take time to develop, is precious and not to be taken lightly. View the Responses.

This week, we ask the question:

Predator and Prey-What Beasts Live Within You? - The circle dance between predator and prey in Nature works to keep things in balance. If you follow a shamanic path, what totem/guardian animals do you hang out with? How did you find your totem/guardian animal? What do think the choice of a certain totem animal says about a person? What about yourself? If you are Pagan, but do not follow a shamanic path, what role or lessons can be learned from the predator/prey relationship? Do you use or were you taught about this concept in your spiritual training? If you are 'none of above', then in our best Barbara Walter's voice we would ask you, 'If you were an animal, what animal would you be?" (Just trying to be inclusive here!) - Post YOUR Opinion or view the Responses of others.

In Closing...

"The power to re-evoke the spirits of animals with whom we once shared our world more equitably is still with us, if we will set aside the time and space. Retreating to our own dark cave, lit only by the torch of our willing understanding, we come again to the ritual kindling of spiritual vision wherein the ancient animal powers speak to us, creature to creature, in the dance of life."-(Caitlin Matthews; The Celtic Spirit)

In Your Service,

 

The Witches' Voice Inc.
Monday, June 18th., 2001






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