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Weekly Update: 12/24/2001

Author: Witchvox Central
Posted: December 24th. 2001
Times Viewed: 4,102

Update Notes: This week's update features many wonderful articles as well as more notes about Witchvox 2002. We take this space to wish you all a safe and prosperous secular new year. FYI: Community News clips from 1997-2001 are available by surfing our Weekly Archives section.




Once Upon A Certain Solstice...

Somewhere within the blackness that he knew was the forest, a twig snapped. The sound, sharpened as it was by the bitter cold air, seemed to go right through him. Instinctively, the man reached for the amulet hanging from the worn leather thong about this neck. His ears strained above the pounding in his chest for any other sound that might tell him what sort of beast could be roaming in the wood. Silence had seemingly regained her composure however and he heard no more. The moon was almost down and the dawn would soon bring his sight back to him. He hesitated, uncertain as to whether to wait here in the meadow for the light or to push on for the line of dark tree shapes that lie just over the hill. The snow was deep and covered over with a thick icy crust. The journey up here had already taken him through most of the night. Leaning upon the gnarled top of his staff, he rested his forehead for a moment against the ancient well-worn wood while he pondered his next move. "Damn, cow," he muttered into the night. "Why does she hafta go a-wanderin' bout the countryside when she could be all warm and cozy in her bed?" "And so could I be," he added, "Stead of draggin' my weary bones all bout the hills a-lookin' fer her sorry hide, I could be dreaming off me Solstice mead in mine own!" Raising his head, the man looked once more toward the sky and decided that he'd best press on. A line of clouds whipped overhead and if that same wind should find its way to the ground, he knew that he'd be fighting it all the way back down the hill. "Damn cow."

He wasn't a particularly superstitious man. In fact, he often had a bit of fun at some of his neighbors' expense as round the fire he'd spin some yarns (His favorites being about the time that he met the bean-sidhe at the river or when he had came upon the band of trooping fairies in these same hills...) and then he'd watch in secret delight as their eyes began to dart at the shadows now lurking about in the corners. The man smiled to himself as he recalled how they'd jump when a log in the fire suddenly snapped or how they'd hesitate at the door, afraid to make that walk back to the safety of their own hearth, but even more afraid to admit that they believed his tales to be anything but the old stories that he purported them to be. Which was worse, they seemed to ponder upon the threshold: the thought that they could be frightened like little children over a mere story or an admission to themselves that the story just might be true?

The man stopped to get his bearings, and as the night began to recede, he could see the trail where the cow had broken through the snow's crust out ahead of him. Sure enough, she had headed right for the wood like he had thought that she would. Just as she had so many other times, so many other nights, before. Damn that bull-headed cow! Just what could possess her to go traipsing off into the cold dark instead of staying snug and warm like all of the other animals? They didn't care to so much as stick their nostrils or beaks outside the lean-to. No siree. They had enough sense to stay home!

The man could travel a little faster now that he could place his feet into the path broken by his wayward livestock and soon he reached the crest of the hill. And there he stopped short. In the faint grayness of the approaching dawn, something moved in the trees. A soft and glowing mist glided about the thick firs and it seemed to gently caress the low hanging boughs as it retreated into the deep green thickness beyond the wood. It traveled as if it knew the way well and the man felt a sudden urge to follow it. His feet in fact had taken two or three steps forward before his mind knew what they were doing. And just as he was about to take another, the heavy clunk of a cowbell shook him from his trance.

Here she came, that damn cow, with steam rising from her hide as if she had just returned from some hard run and with her sides all a-heaving with quick and labored breaths. "Damn you, cow!" said the man as he took the lead from his pocket and hooked it into her nose ring. "I hope you're damn happy with yourself..." He gave the lead a tug and man and cow began the long trip down the hill. So suddenly did the man stop short that the weary cow bumped into him and almost toppled him into the snow. What was that? "William..." came the sound again and it was with no small chill that the man realized that someone had called his name. "William..." it came again with more urgency. Without knowing why, William turned around and looked back to the woods. Nothing. Just trees and snow and the tracks of one cow and one man behind him. Strange, he thought. And then it came again, fainter, but still unmistakably his name.

William stopped again. Walking past the cow, he took a few steps back up the hill. All was quiet and he heard no more. Turning back to the trail, his eye was caught by a small flash of light. "What's this? What have you got caught up in your tail now, you stupid cow?" He glared at her for a moment as if waiting for her to explain herself. If the cow knew, she wasn't telling, so William worked his fingers around the ensnarled object and finally managed to work it free. What he saw when he held it up to the almost risen sun took his breath away. At that moment he wouldn't have been at all surprised if the cow had actually begun to talk.

For there dangling from the thick fingers of his glove was the most delicate and fine silver necklace that he had ever seen. In fact, it was doubtful that anyone had ever seen such a piece before. Tiny silver and gold leaves of the finest workmanship dangled from links so thin that they seemed almost to have been spun from spider silk. And when he moved his hand to get a closer look, the littlest of bells that anyone could ever imagine being possible tinkled their greeting. William was still standing with mouth open and wondering what to do next when he heard it again. Like a fading breath, he heard, "William..." And in that instant, he knew what- and who- it was.

Hurrying back up the hill, almost stumbling over himself, he raced the sun for the trees. Gasping for air, he reached up and hung the little silvery necklace on a branch. Spinning around, he began to run. He ran back to the cow. Then he and the cow ran some more and they didn't stop running until they had reached home. Later, tossing some straw in the cow's crib, William was still thinking about the woods and the cow and the little silver necklace. The cow just munched at her hay and refused to say anything more about it. It was the man's story to tell, she figured with perfect cow logic, and so he would have to be the one to tell it.

And tell the story was what William did for many years until everyone in that part of the countryside could tell it, too. He told of that Solstice when he had to chase his damn fool cow up the hill to the wood. He told of the night when he had returned the fairy's necklace and of how she would have been trapped by the light of day, never to be able to return to her homeland again, without it. And he told of how he had run all of the way home because he was afraid that he would change his mind if he didn't. He told the story until he was a very old man. He told it until the very day that he disappeared.

The old man had made it up the hill. Barely. His breathing came in great gasps and the trees swam before his eyes. But he kept going. Just a little bit further, just a little bit...No. This was it. He could go no further. He leaned his frail and tired back against the tree trunk and closed his eyes. This had to be far enough because this was as far as he could go. Here is where he would stay. Here is where he would wait. He fumbled with his gloves and finally got one off. Reaching into his cloak, he pulled out his small flask of Solstice mead and took a sip. As the warmth embraced him, he relaxed. Slowly his eyes closed and his breathing grew fainter and fainter. And then he was still.

The faint sound of tiny little bells tickled his ears until he awoke. As William's eyes opened, he saw dangling before them, a fine glittering necklace dancing with little silver and gold leaves and bells and all wrought upon a chain so fine that it looked like it had been spun with spider silk. Even before he saw her face, he knew that she was beautiful. Even before she spoke his name, he knew her voice. And even before she took his hand, he knew that she had come to guide him home.

That is what they say happened on the day that William disappeared. At least, that is the story as it was told to my grandfather. And that is the story that he told to another William, his son and my father, who in turn told it to me. But whether this story is just a story- or whether this story is a true account of what happened in a certain darkened wood upon on a certain Solstice night- is something that you, dear reader, will have to decide for yourself. Because that damn cow, of course, would never say.

Walk in Love and Light,


Wren Walker
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, December 24th, 2001

Image credit: Image used by permission... World of FroudTM is a trademark of Brian and Wendy Froud/Artwork © Wendy Froud and Brian Froud World of Froudª is created & maintained by Fionaurora Productions ©1999, 2000- All rights reserved - Visit their website, patronize thier work at .www.worldoffroud.com



The Fellowship of the Ring

WitchVox Review by Peg Aloi

We need this story now.

In the wake of September 11th's events, our collective fragility and fear and unfocused rage and bewilderment have unbalanced us. We have wished for solace, and escape, and answers. We have been distracted at work. We have snapped at our loved ones even as we have wished to draw them closer. We have looked at our lives and thought about our deaths and wondered how we'd be able to go on. But we do go on.

It is disingenuous to propose that a work of literature (even a great, enduring one like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings) could offer any sort of collective glimmer of hope or comfort. And yet if one of the reasons we are alive is to realize the best in ourselves, to live well and grow and help others, then embracing this wonderful story and our response to it is one of those things we ought to do.

At this time of year, peoples of all religious paths look back upon the year that has passed. For some it is a time of fasting, for others a time of feasting, for some there are gifts, for others, quiet reflection. For all of us, the sun's shift, from darkness to light (or the other way 'round in the southern hemisphere) marks a still point, a cusp, a moment of clarity. We look both backwards and forwards in time from this moment, and there are epiphanies gentle and profound.

Perhaps immersing ourselves in a story of hobbits and elves, orcs and wizards, is childish. We aren't teenagers playing Dungeons and Dragons anymore; this is real life, and our problems can't be solved with magical items or shining swords, any more than we can find happiness surrounded by lavish gifts and sugarplums. A movie about magic? Surely this is escapism of the highest order, even if it is literate and sophisticated, and there are no car chases or talking dogs or sexual acrobatics. (Continued...)

Peg Aloi
Media Coordinator - The Witches' Voice
Monday, December 24th, 2001
Email: [Staff Page Link]


In Memory of Paige Renee

On December 19th at 9:30pm CST Paige Renee lost her fight with Leukemia and went Home. ... Condolences may be left at Link a tribute is at HERE - Ladysprite ( Web)

The Witchvox staff offers our most sincere condolences to all of those spirits that Paige Renee has touched. We dedicate our community service work, this week, in her name. May she never be forgotten.



Essay Topics for 2002 Now UP!

Earlier this month, Diotima finalized and posted the Adult and Young Pagan Essay Topics for the first 6 months of 2002.

For A listing of Adult Pagan Topics Go Here
For A listing of Young Pagan Topics Go Here

Bless YOU Dio for the consistant and dedicated work that you do for us all.



Pagan Doers

How To Get Things Done - by Sia

There has been a lot of talk in our community lately about what our Pagan Leaders do for us (and in some cases, to us). But I'm not going to speak on that subject, because the folks here at Full Circle are not Leaders, we're Doers.

Doers make things happen and their actions light the way for those that wish to follow their example. Full Circle lights the way by organizing events for the Earth Wise Community as a whole. Those who want to join us, show up and get to work. Our volunteers have a say in what we do and how we do it. Those who simply want to attend our events, do that. The latter vote with their feet and with their pocketbooks and we think that's fair.

What we do here at Full Circle is done at a grass roots level. We work in and for the community. You have a chance to meet and talk to any of us whenever you attend or work on one of our events. You also have the power to help our organization grow and to make a difference in your community.

Full Circle was started by two women with a vision of a Pagan Event Group that was non-denominational and community based. We were committed to networking and to charity work and we wanted this organization to reflect that. We also wanted to create a group that was family friendly but offered adult only events, as well. Finally, we wanted to do Inter-faith work because we wanted to meet people of like mind who cared for Mama Gaia and respected Earth Wise Spirituality. And so we began the work of creating Full Circle. We were later joined by some marvelous men who helped us make this vision into a reality. (Continued...)

Photo credit: This image above comes from the Fairy Oracle by Brian Froud mnd is used by permission. Other images by Brian can be viewed at www.worldoffroud.com



Notes from a Pagan WebCrafter
Hey There... Let's Beat up on the Newbies!

Greetings Witches, Wiccans, Pagans and Heathens!

This past week I set aside a few nights for diving into PHP in an effort to fathom the logic of the code. I now have almost 6 hours of loose experience to move forward with. FYI: PHP is a middleware programming language that is the 'glue' between a backend database full of information and the webpages you see. (see my column last week for additional details about Witchvox 2002) .

Losing my religion: As stated, on last weeks webnotes, we are bagging the lasso/Filemaker combo and re-writing witchvox.net with the php/mysql combo. We are doing this because we now have our own unix server that sits on a very hot pipe to the net. Unfortunately this requires a complete do over of much of what we have designed over the past 6 years. BUT Wren and I are changelings and quite excited about these new opportunities.

Witch Hugs must go out to Max W. Blackmer, Jr. for not only offering to help this past week, but for actually responding to my newbie questions. Sadly, since we are only communicating by email, any momentum I try to achieve is at the mercy of 'wait time'... Like so many of you I am not known for my patience. Max has been patient with my questions and for that I am deeply indebted. Thanx Max. I look forward to more of your wisdom and appreciate your help more than you may know.

Excuse me? I have question: Most of the 'old guard' in the PHP "Community" are quick to blow you over with assumptions (and arrogance) and can't wait to embarrass you. Many live just to see you 'beg for clarification'. It's a classic example of "I know something you don't... I know something you want". If you propose specific questions they just love to spit back the acronym... "RTFM" (Read the f'n manual). The assumption is that you are too stupid to have even thought about reading the manual or surfing the many articles out on the net. I do have some legitimate questions, even at this early stage and I AM confused about some of the logic.

Talk about the 'right way to do things', attitudes directly related to 'holding the power' and, of course, the never ending quest for cash (for knowledge) dominate the mindset of many in the PHP 'community'.

Sound familiar?

To my amusement, the parallels between being a newbie in the PHP 'community' and being a newbie in the Pagan community are priceless. Wren has consciously followed this path for about 30 years, I only discovered this community 13 years ago. As a famous New York Yankee catcher once stated "It's Deja Vu all over again" -- (Yogi Berra - 1962). I sense that my PHP learning experience will be quite similar and I will repeat many of the same lessons that I did back in '88... And, not unlike that experience, I am certain that I will soon realize that this PHP old guard ain't as bitchen' as they allude to be and that this new path will be much easier to comprehend than so many are saying.
Judge NOT the 'old guard' of ANY community based on their big fat claims or years of 'experience', judge them ONLY on how they treat others and what they do with the knowledge they claim to have.
The Light: The good news is that, not unlike the Pagan community, there are the rare few that ARE glad to offer help, remembering the days when they too were struggling to 'understand' and will never forget the few that helped them. THESE are spirits that I am looking for, the ones that actually enjoy seeing others blossom, the ones that actually offer selfless help to those just coming onboard.
Empowering others, does not diminish the power within.
This Witch will learn this language; I will test it, and no doubt make it my own. I will learn new approaches and bend the logic to what works for me. I will work my magick with it despite the blocking of the PHP 'old guard'. I say this, because I know it true and because it comes from my spirit.

On a similar note, a couple of you have emailed us suggesting that we check out phpnuke or postphp. I say again, YES these are well done prefab shells with some wonderful code, but not our cup of tea. We have every desire to learn the language and build things up from scratch. To us this will be a more complete and rewarding experience in the long run. The bottom line is that we have much customization that will require us doing just that.

I am sure that I will have many 'how to' and logic questions over the next couple of weeks. So I make this plea: If you are a php coding monster, a pagan and a patient lad or lass, and would like to help us out, please email us. IF you live in the Tampa area, there is a free dinner in it for you.

Have a glorious week everyone!

Proudly in YOUR Service,

Fritz Jung
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, December 24th, 2001




Yule 2001 - All World (Plant City, Florida)
Festival at Summerland
December - 2001
Review by Witchvox Staff Member Darragh Nagle

The drive out from the I4 exit through the rural countryside 30 miles east of Tampa was a very scenic 20 minutes, culminating in the entrance to All worlds site, stopping at registration and parking my car among all the others. The sound of drums was welcoming, as were all the people, many of them familiar faces from other festivals around Florida. The merchants area impressed me, this being the first large festival at a site that has been hosting drum circles for about a year, I was surprised to see not three, not five, but a whole double row of merchant tents, spread about in a grand circle. Good place for some shopping, and I acquired several wonderful items.

My first stop on my tour was the newly completed bath house, with hot showers and flush toilets, lovingly constructed by the community over the last few months. The walls were all inscribed with paintings of faeries, and loving expressions such as "love like you've never been hurt", and "Goddess of second chances, here I am again!"

The camping area went on endlessly in the back of the property, and there was space left over even though over 200 people were attending. The enclosed fire circle, with fences covered with plants, offered a private space, and the main fire circle opens into the wilderness and the sky. (Continued...)

Photo credit: "Part of the dining area of Cafe del Sol, with a gingerbread house from one of the workshops on the table". Photo by Darragh Nagle Website


December 27th is the birthday of Gerina Dunwich (Pagan author) - Email Gerina

New Festival in Florida!
Festival at Summerland
Bonita Springs - February 7-10, 2002

Here's your invitation to a special place and magickal event! Summerland is 6-pristine acres of private property. Ed Kent is the owner of this stretch of pagan land, and has graciously opened it up to others for this festival. Many such sites are sadly disappearing, giving way to gated community developments and country clubs. Your attendance at this event will help Ed to preserve this place of natural beauty and the majestic spirit of place found here.

We know that you're going to love this property. It is located in Tropical SouthWest Florida. Bonita Springs is just to the North of Naples, and South of Ft. Myers. This area is the Gateway to the Florida Everglades...one of the great remaining Natural Wonders and important ancient- environmental strongholds on the planet!

Such places are the true reason why so many tourists are drawn to Florida, and is directly responsible for the lush, tropical climate and preserver of Life on Earth.

Featured Guests will include Don and Daniella Waterhawk, Wendyl Jay and Bill Bailey with Clan Rivendell (Main Ritual facilitators), Fritz Jung and Wren Walker of The Witches' Voice, Ross and Deborah Keleman (Labyrinth faciliators), Matyas the Mage (Drum Circle facilitator), TREE from Sedona, Arizona, Astronomer Linda of "Adventures along the Milky Way" and more! JUST CONFIRMED Author Trish Telesco

Photo credit: the beautiful 'circle' photo was taken by Witchvox Staff Photographer Don Two Eagles Waterhawk (Web: waterhawkcreations.com) and is a mere teaser of the gorgous site where this fest will be taking place. For more info on 'Festival at Summerland" (and more awesome shots like this) visit the hornedone.com website.



New this week in the Witchvox Holidays Section....

Season of light and dark. Season of hope and joy. Season of change, again.
by Christina Aubin (December - 2001)

Solstice is the time when the sun appears to stand still in His yearly migration across the heavens. Be it in the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere, the journey of the sun pauses, deliberately and when his journey resumes the tide of the year has once again begun to ebb and flow. Together we journey into separate halves of the year, very much two sides to the same coin, each coupled to the other, as Light is coupled to Dark, without Light there would be no Dark as without Dark there would be no Light -- much like we find without a path there would be no journey.

Solstice is as much about the light as it is about the dark. Irregardless of where we stand, Solstice marks the time of great change, as we in the Northern Hemisphere begin our yearly accent into the light half of the year, our counterparts in the Southern Hemisphere begin their decent into the dark half of the year.

Be it accent or decent, the holiday is about hope, which remains the constant from wherever we journey the Wheel and our lives, independent yet connected with hope being the beacon for all. (Continued...)

Photo credit: The anchor photo to your upper right was sent in last week by RiverWolf and FireWalker or Roseburg, Oregon (Email: hbowman@grantsuccess.com) and features their wonderful Yule Altar. Thanks RiverWolf and FireWalker for adding this piece of magick to our Yule feature. -- Witchvox Staff


Honor YOUR Pagan Pet!

What About the FAMILIARS of the Craft?
New Pagan Site Focuses on your Pagan Pets

Last month we closed our "Cats of the Craft" section (but only for new submissions) and at the same time made a plea to find out if ANY Pagan site was actually doing a 'Familiars of the Craft section' ... Turns out no one was but ONE man did come forward and noted that he'd be glad to create one. Our community thanks go out to Jeff for taking on this challenge.

Over the years we have taken much criticism for having a 'cats only' section. In fact we personally love all animals but created 'cats of the Craft' to make a specific point. With this new site dedicated to your familiar we will be able to gush over your pets.

Kindly visit www.mainepagans.com/craft.htm and submitt a picture of your critter... We will all be glad that you did.



Worth Supporting!

Camp Gaea Needs YOUR Help!
Wonderful People Doing Wonderful things

As reported in Reuters and elsewhere: "A Kansas retreat that caters to witches and Pagan rituals is fighting for survival amid community talk that naked Witches may be weaving magical spells in the moonlight.

The owners of the Gaea Retreat Center, a 168-acre (68-hectare) camp west of Kansas City that is home to such annual events as the Gaea Goddess Gathering and a "Heartland Pagan Spiritual event" filed suit on Monday in Leavenworth County District Court after county commissioners effectively put the retreat out of business by denying it a renewal of its land use permit."

In a message from Gendah, the Treasurer of Earth Rising, as posted on the organization's web site, she states:

"Financially, Earth Rising has watched it's P's and Q's this year, and we came into this conflict with some breathing room. However, many of the buildings have deferred maintenance that would have been addressed in the spring, and we are by no means a money rich organization. We are setting aside money into a Legal Defense Fund, and any donations made to this effort will be encumbered and used only to fund these activities. Please consider helping out in this effort. We have not lost the property, the Spirit, or the drive to succeed, and we will not be forced from our land, or denied the right to freely meet. "

"Where can we go where religious bigots don't live? Unfortunately, nowhere. We must stand our ground...as well as bend a little to show the surrounding community that we are just as forgiving and flexible as we expect them to be."

Thank you,
Gendah

Please feel free to write me at Gendah3@aol.com and visit our website at Camp Gaea.Org for the latest news and updates.

Donations are being accepted at the following address: Earth Rising, INC, PO Box 696, Tonganoxie, KS 66086

This just in from Alexian... (DEC 21st.,2001)

"I am shocked and dismayed at the allegations that Leavenworth County in Kansas is making against Gaea Retreat where "Heartland Pagan Festival" is held each year.
These are the nicest, most decent people on the face of the earth! I have been to Gaea every year now in May for "Heartland", and these people are soo sweet.
We are setting up to sell the "Heartland" CDs & Tapes on our website at http://www.paganmusic.com to help raise funds for The Gaea Legal Defense Fund. ALL Profits will go to the fund.
Help out if you can, by purchasing a CD/Tape. Fight for your religious freedom!"

May the Gods Protect!

Blessings & Happy Yuletide!
Alexian
Earth Tones Studios


Pagan Perspectives
WitchVox Question of the Week!

Last week, we asked the question...

Is 'Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men' Possible? -'Not too likely in the near future' say most of you. And yet even those who find it hard, impossible or even undesireable still seem to echo a sense of hope that humanity, at least will evolve into something better. As Amaranth says: "History teaches us our past, but not our potential, so it is extremely important not to let what we have done or not done limit what we try to accomplish. Keep hoping, keep loving, and maybe enough of us will create pleasant microcosms to have a positive effect on the macrocosm. As within, so without." Other Favorite quote: "We must find peace one person at a time.' -(Raven Prince). -- View the Responses

This week, we ask the question:

Do You Believe in Faeries? Faeries, the Good Folk, the Sidhe and many more Otherworld beings of this type populate the folklore and tales of the world. So such beings exist? Did they ever? Are they an archetype, a memory of a long-lost people or simply that thing that we catch out of the corner of our eye? Have you ever had a Fae Encounter? Tell us your favorite 'faery tale' and point us to it if the source is on the net. And don't forget your pixie dust...Post YOUR Opinion or view the Responses of others.


In Closing...

"I heard an old voice say: "Don't go far from the land. The seasons have their way, No mortal can understand." "
-- (Loreena McKennitt; Courtyard Lullaby; The Visit).


Blessed Solstice to Everyone,

The WitchVox Staff
The Witches' Voice Inc.
Monday, December 24th, 2001






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