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Weekly Update: 6/25/2001

Author: Witchvox Central
Posted: June 25th. 2001
Times Viewed: 4,529

Listening To The Story...

Greetings Witches, Wiccans and Pagans,

Watching the Wind carve a mandala through the water of the little pond, Wren began to read the story. The Wind Herself could not be seen, of course, but the wandering plot of Her epic journey-tale was printed out on the pages of the water. "Once upon a time, " She wrote, "I was churning up the sands of the desert plains of Africa. I was kicking the dust from tent flaps and spinning whirlwinds with my fingers. I have traveled many times across the oceans of the world. I have jumped over the foaming salty waves and touched noses with the Whale Tribes. And now I am visiting your Little Pond and I am sharing my story with you". Wren blinked and the pages flowed back into water. But the story remains and will continue to remain as long as Wren can remember it. The Wind has Her story. Egret and Fish and Turtle each have his/her own story. Wren is full of stories herself. But she always enjoys listening to a new one.

Storytelling is as old as language itself. The first stories were undoubtedly practical and concerned with the mundane interests of the family or tribe. Where are the game animals to be found? Here's the location of a nice comfortable (and conveniently vacant of bears) cave just waiting for a new family of occupants. If the hunters of today are any indication of the species however, the very next tales to be told were a bit more colorful. ("Really, Grock, you should have seen the size of that mammoth! He used my spear like a toothpick. I was lucky to get outta there with the skins on my back." or "C'mon, dear, I know the cave is a bit smaller than you expected, but the view of the mountains is really cool- and once I add a few tastefully arranged elk wall paintings- you will be the envy of all of your friends!") Still later, people began to tell their creation stories, pass along important news events or mystical experiences as local myths and legends and formulate 'the moral of this story is..." fables containing germs of experienced wisdom.

Stories, myths, legends and fables are universal and timeless. We often think of these types of stories as being ancient and indeed many of them are. Many also are the Pagans who wish that the Ancestors had written down all of Their stories and not depended on a mainly oral tradition. We cannot know how many of the Old Stories have been lost to time. And yet, there was much wisdom in the reliance of passing along stories by word of mouth. For as Jan Vansina writes in 'Oral Tradition as History': "The marvel of oral tradition, some will say its curse, is this: messages from the past exist, are real, and yet are not continuously accessible to the senses. Oral traditions make an appearance only when they are told. For fleeting moments they can be heard, but most of the time they dwell only in the minds of people."

Obsessed as we often are with reclaiming our lost histories, we often forget that these ancient stories were once new stories themselves. And we mistakenly believe that the enshrinement of the ancient stories into a 'epics hall of fame' is the best way to preserve our storytelling heritage. We write them down, print them up in books and manuscripts, publish translations of them and pen academic commentaries ad infinitum on the themes and how they relate to history and to the societies of their time. The way to preserve the oral traditions of storytelling however is not to put to them under some sort of intellectual glass to file by and admire. The best way to preserve our stories is to tell them. For just as a sound is not 'heard' unless there is an ear present to 'hear' it, so the stories of our past remain in the past until we-by speaking them-bring them into the present. By doing so, past and present become one. As Vansina goes on to say, "Oral traditions are documents of the present because they are TOLD in the present. Yet they also embody a message from the past, so they are expressions of the past at the same time. One cannot deny either the past or the present in them." To make them live again, they must be TOLD. But to make the connection between past and present, there must be both the 'telling' and the 'listening'.

Almost everyone is familiar with the item known as the 'talking stick'. Whoever has the 'talking stick' in his/her hand at the moment gets to speak. A Native American friend tells us that in the Native council meetings that he has attended the talking stick is indeed used. The stick directs the 'telling' element of the process. But there is another dimension present in the Native councils that is just as important as the physical possession of the talking stick. Unlike the 'telling' element, it has no external tool to govern it. There is nothing to hold in the hand. It is- like the Wind- 'invisible'. Its name is 'Silence'.

After the person with the stick has 'talked his/her talk', the rest of the council remain silent for a stretch of time which would probably seem awkwardly long to those unfamiliar with the process. 'Silence' opens the space in which the 'listening' element can enter. The words spoken do not fall upon the ground to be immediately scattered away by the next gust of sound-words. The words are allowed a space in which they can settle upon the listeners and bring forth the images and meanings of what was spoken. 'Silence' is the 'page' upon which the story is written and then can be 'read' by the minds and spirits of the listeners. The spoken 'past' now becomes one with the 'heard' present.

Stories held captive in print remain where they are. That is a good thing for historians and researchers who like things to stay in one place where they can poke and prod at them. But the old stories must be spoken again in order for the listeners to keep them alive. It is in the minds of the people that they receive their meaning and relevance. And the new stories must be spoken also. Every day, every hour, someone is creating a new story. Something is always happening right now and someone knows about it, sees it, experiences it. Every day and every hour IS in itself a new story simply waiting to be told. And who is there in this day, in this hour who will tell the stories of this particular day and of this particular 'now' if not us? And who then is there to listen to these new stories of this new day and this new now if it is not us because we have not learned to sit comfortably with Silence for a while and wait for the words to birth their meanings?

As 'Talkers' and as Storytellers, we can bring our past into the present by retelling the old stories to each other. And at the same time, we can create today the new stories that the future generations will retell as the 'old stories'. As 'Listeners', we can allow Silence to turn the pages slowly enough for us to live the experience and feel the meaning behind the words in the stories.

It seems to be true today that the Talkers get all of the attention and most of the respect for their crafting or retelling of the stories. Perhaps this is partly due to the present culture's admiration for active, masculine energy 'doers'. But it is within the Listeners that the stories will take root and grow. It is the Listeners who by their own free can agree to become the receptive, feminine element and so nurture the words until their meanings are born. Perhaps people will become better Listeners when their part in the process is more widely acknowledged and respected.

Wren hauled herself out of the porch chair and went back inside to get ready for a day at the "Fires at Solstice" festival. Wind too had moved on, it seemed, as the water on the Little Pond was now smooth and calm. But Wren, who always likes hearing a new story, would remember the ones that she heard from Wind today. Wind tells such good stories. And maybe some morning when you and Silence are sitting comfortably together on a sunlit porch, Wind will stop by and tell one to you.

Walk in Love and Light,

Wren Walker
The Witches' Voice Inc.

Bardic Circle Photo: ... This awesome shot of Maya Heath at the AutumnMeet Fest in Florida from 1999 has become a classic. Featured originally on our fest review and then on a Fox tv/web special, it just seem natural to feature it for this piece. Shot of Wren was taken just yesterday at the Fires of solstice Fest in Land of lakes florida (photos by Fritz Jung)

A Pagan Pilgrimage: The Destination in the Journey
Part One: The Return to Stonehenge

Dawn breaks within the ancient circle of huge stones, erected many miles from where they were hewn, brought there under mysterious circumstances no one has ever been able to fully explain. Solstice Revellers, some pagans, some hippies, some students, some young, some old, come together to observe the shortest night and longest day of the year, that potent time which showcases the alignment of this magical monument: Stonehenge. From the east, first light appears and those who have stayed awake greet the lightening sky with awe, feeling, perhaps, that they share in what their ancestors may have felt, hundreds, or thousands, of years ago...the lintels and monoliths possess great power, having served as repositories of the rites of generations, having stood sentinel at countless solstice eves and dawns...

The British Isles and Ireland are full of stone circles, some large and some small, some only composed of several stones, some containing hundreds of stones in one structure, some the size of a child’s sandbox, some encircling entire villages. But of the virtually hundreds, perhaps thousands, of stone circles erected over the millennia, none has captured the human imagination to the extent of that large and dramatic structure on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire known as (dramatic pause, Nigel): STONEHENGE. - Full Article


That's Life! Magazine Australia ... Wants YOU!
Hello, We are hoping to interview members of your group for a quirky feature. We want to speak to and photograph two parents and their (preferably teenage) child to find out what it is like being the son/daughter of a witch.

In no way do we intend for the article to be insulting to the witches or to give a voice to an angry teen - it is merely a fun feature showing that you can't always guess the child by the parent.

Basically, we will have a headline saying 'guess whose child' alongside pictures of three teens and three sets of parents (we can also use single parents).

The parents will be anything from witches to bodybuilders to Elvis Presley impersonators, to vicars and eco warriors. We would like the children to look as different from the parents as possible. When readers turn the page they will see which child belongs to which parent and listen to stories from the children.

We are looking for Australian members only to take part. They can be in any state and would be paid $200.

I can be contacted direct on (02) 9464 3524. By email. Or by fax on (02) 9464 3480.

I hope you can help and look forward to speaking to you soon. -- Regards Rachel Broady

Notes from a WebCrafter
Running Like a Greyhound!

Greetings to all,

This week's column will be a brief one. Wren and I need most of the weekend to do these updates properly and Solstice Celebrations, a jaunt over to the'Fires of Solstice' festival and some serious overtime at my other job rendered this week's update a race. For the next couple of weeks, I will be working triple time in an effort to finish up a computer/software conversion for my company. This includes all new hardware (Dell servers) and distribution software. This is both frustrating and exciting as well as a wonderful opportunity to learn much about mssql, win 2000 server(s) and the illusive Citrix Metaframe.

Fires at Solstice... Love in a Downpour.
Yesterday morning, Wren and I hit the Fires at Solstice in Land o' Lakes, Florida. Torrential rains were the gift from the Gods all morning... Since most of Florida has been in a state of drought for the past year... This was a opportunity to rejoice. Sadly, time does not allow for a proper review at this point but we hope to type something up for next week's update.

Although we were only there for 5 hours, we enjoyed the community thoughts offered at our "WitchWars Workshop", met the famous folks, Robyn and Brahm, from Brahm's Eclectic Bookworks (who do those awesome hand made book of shadows), watched the creation and break up the "Goat Club", snagged a signed copy of Trish Telesco's new book, "The Wiccan Web; Surfing the Magic on the Internet", captured some fabulous images and had lots of fun... Look for details on this coming weeks update. (photo of fest organizer "Unky Wade" Berlin to your right was taken yesterday by yours truly)

The Free Music Give-a-Way
For the past 6 months, we have offered one tune per month from my 1996 release "Celtic Feast of the Dead"... To better clarify, we are not giving out free CD's but simply the tunes from the CD in mp3 format. Many have offered to purchase this CD, and we must say we are flattered by this, but it would unethical for us to use our position here at TWV to feature our music for monetary compensation. Due to the dozens of requests for the CD we are *considering* "burning up" a no-frills batch to be mailed out at "no charge" to those who truly desire it. All we will ask is that you send a self-addressed/stamped CD mailer... Look for a final decision to be made on this issue in the weeks to come... Until then, take these tunes as our gift to you.

Pagan Shops Clean up: As noted these past weeks, we are planning on doing an email verification of all our "brick and mortar" shop listings here at TWV. We hope to get to this within 10 days... As previously noted, we appreciate YOUR HELP in making us aware of any "closed shops" in your area.

As always, our goal is 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 and that, in fact, this site has evolved FROM YOUR suggestions. Have a magickal week, everyone!

In Your Service,


Fritz Jung (WebCrafter - Witchvox)
Monday, June 25th. 2001


What is an elder?
by Patricia Telesco

This question lays heavy on our community's heart. It seems simple on the surface, but is not so simple when we examine proverbial brass tacks.

I think most of us have grown very weary of people who misuse honored titles like elder and teacher, thinking that reading one book, attending a few lectures, or going to a few gatherings qualifies them to be at the forefront of the neo-pagan movement. In fact, such individuals are the ones who are setting us back decades. Why? Because they have not researched, they have not lived their faith in word and deed, they have not worked hard for their freedoms, or built those cornerstones necessary to responsible eldership (note the operative term: responsible).

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, we have taken a back seat approach to these situations. It seems we're more content to complain than to try and change things. And those of us who aren't complaining fall back on the excuse that neo-paganism as a non-conformist, vision-driven, tolerance based faith, doesn't have the right to judge others or impose stricture. I personally think that is a huge load of hooey and a cop out. When a purported neo-pagan misrepresents the whole of our community, and specifically our elders who deserve respect, it is long past time for action, and long past the space in which we can coddle and handhold. - Full Article

Master's Thesis on History and Wicca
I am a graduate student writing my masters' thesis about the use of history in the practice of Wicca. I am looking for practicing Wiccans who are willing to answer a series of questions about their ritual practices and their opinions of Wicca's history. Participants must be over the age of 21 and residents of the United States.

The questionniare should take approximately 30-60 minutes of your time. All information will be kept confidential and the questionnaire can be completed and sent over email. If you are interested in helping, please contact me, Elizabeth Hamer, at: ehamer@usa.net. Please use "Wicca Study" as the subject of your email, thank you!

Pagan Perspectives
WitchVox Question of the Week!

Last week, we asked...

Predator and Prey-What Beasts Live Within You? - That the practice, belief in and the walking with totem, guardian or spirit animals is so widespread in the modern Pagan communities-regardless of personal Path-was a bit of a surprise. However, perhaps that speaks-as someone pointed out-that shamanic experience is a part of the basic foundation of many religious or spiritual belief systems. The stories that you shared were rich with insight and delightful in scope. Human and Animal can indeed, it would seem, walk together both in this realm and in the Otherworlds. View the Responses.

This week, we ask the question:

Are you a Talker or a Listener? -Do you tend to do most of the Talking in a relationship or in conversation? Or are you more the Listener- the one who is usually found quietly nodding your head over there in the corner? As a Talker, are you sometimes frustrated if people don't seem to get what you are trying to say-don't really 'listen' to your point except to form arguments or responses of their own? As a Listener, do you feel somehow 'unappreciated' because you tend to be more thoughtful than outwardly verbal? Does it frustrate you when your speech gets 'lost' in the flurry of conversations or debates? Do you have any idea how people might develop better 'Talking" or 'Listening' skills? And just for fun, you might want to take the The Introvert/Extrovert Personality Test, the Communication Skills Test or one of the other tests listed Index of 121 Tests. Let us know which test that you took, what the results were and what you learned about yourself that may help you in the future to better communicate your Life Story. - Post YOUR Opinion or view the Responses of others.

In Closing...

"The Muse already knows the story. She it was who made it come alive for us in our contemplation of it. Rather, we tell the story to those around us to whom the Muse wants to speak through us. If this strikes you as too mystical then you have not had your first experience of being a real storyteller."-John Harrell; Origins and Early Traditions of Storytelling.

In Your Service,

 

The Witches' Voice Inc.
Monday, June 25th., 2001






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