Weekly Update: 12/31/2001|
Author: Witchvox Central
Posted: December 31st. 2001
Times Viewed: 20,190
Update Notes: This week's update features many new articles as well as more notes about Witchvox 2002. We take this space to wish you all a safe and prosperous secular new year and to thank those of you that supported this site both spiritually and financially in 2001. We project that is new year will be full of much magick and growth for all. FYI: Community News clips from 1997-2001 are available by surfing our Weekly Archives section.
Have you ever worked on a puzzle? One of those big ones with five to ten thousand pieces? If you have, and emerged sane enough to tell the tale, then you know three very important things already: you need room to work, a certain affinity for spatial arrangement and color and lots and lots of patience. It also helps to have an understanding family who is willing to eat while balancing their plates on their knees for a week when the dining table is off-limits and cats who won't hide the pieces under the couch in the middle of the night.
Some of the very first puzzles constructed were of what we often refer to as 'magic squares'. The words are all the same length and all read the same up and down, left to right, right to left and bottom to top. Our friend, Michael Pendragon, has a very good article called, Magick Squares, Sigils and Planetary Seals if you want to learn more about the mathematical version of these. Certainly a puzzle is a good thing to work on in the after-holidays since the new seasons of 'Buffy','Lexx', WitchBlade' and 'Farscape' haven't begun as yet. It's probably a more constructive way to spend the time than walking about muttering, "Will this thing with Spike last?" And you can still mutter it under your breath anyway as you -now looking sufficiently intellectual and studious- pour over your puzzle pieces. Only those close enough to hear you will actually know and (with a little pre-planning on your part) they will be too busy trying to keep their plate of spaghetti from sliding off of their laps to do much about it.
Our modern-day attempts at reconstructing ancient Pagan/Heathen ways and religious practices can also be a bit of a puzzle. In fact, it is very much like working on one or I would obviously be writing about something else here. First off, puzzles (of any kind) are supposed to be a challenge. That's the fun of it. In the tabletop version, you get a box with a picture of the puzzle on it and inside the box you find hundreds and hundreds of little cut-out pieces that you must reconstruct and fit together until you get the picture looking like the one on the box-top. When it comes to reconstructing the 'picture' that is Pagan history however, we are working under several handicaps that most cardboard puzzlers never encounter. We don't have a 'full picture' to work from. We don't even have a box. And not only don't we have all of the pieces, it is highly unlikely that we ever will- even after we've checked under the sofa. I doubt many weekend puzzlers would even bother with such a crazy thing to begin with, but it seems as though there are many archaeologists, scientists, historians, literary scholars and Pagans who are willing to take it on. Hopefully, more pieces will continue to be recovered through their efforts. But let's look at what we have thus far.
Space to work: While we obviously can't place a life-size version of a stone circle or temple wall on our dining table as a visual aid, we can give ourselves 'space to work' by opening up our minds to all possibilities. Most scientists and scholars working in the fields of historical reconstruction have extensive background training in these areas. However, they like everyone else have their own pet theories and prejudices and may view an object -a piece of the puzzle as it were- by comparing it to the 'picture' of history that they carry around in their heads. They may be right; they may be wrong. But they require a LOT of proof that they are wrong before they will abandon the spot where they think that the piece might fit. Pagans, too, have put some wrong pieces of historical content and/or lore in the wrong places over the years. Happily, many of these misconceptions that were accepted as truth not that long ago have been corrected in the last five years. And, yes, perhaps it did take a lot of proof for many to be able to make that mental adjustment on the 'picture' of Pagan history that they carried around in their heads, too. But they have done it. So please all you 'scholars' and writers and Pagan critics out there, get a clue. Don't quote anything from a Pagan writer that is older than three years when you rant about how Pagans don't know the truth about historical events. We've got it. We've moved on to another part of the puzzle already. Keep an open mind. We're a work in progress.
An affinity for spatial arrangement and color: Just how the puzzle pieces might fit together depends on the context in which they are found. While working on a cardboard puzzle, experts tend to group together the pieces by shape. Then when a 'hole' in the puzzle emerges, there is a convenient pile of semi-sorted shapes to choose from. In the search for Pagan origins and history, our 'shapes' might consist of academic works, literary translations of ancient or pre-modern works and archaeological discoveries. When a 'hole' opens up, we can see if anything that we have so far fits in our puzzle. Many pieces look alike, of course, and so to further determine whether a particular piece might fit there, we also have to take into consideration color. 'Color' here is the 'feel' of the thing. Irish poetry, for example, is typically very Irish. It has a certain cadence and rhythm all of it's own. It wouldn't 'fit' into a puzzle picture of ancient Crete, but it would find a place in Celtic thought process and literary lore. Such 'color' is not interchangeable from puzzle to puzzle. It is unique to the picture of only a few of the puzzles that we might be working on. If one works on too many puzzles at once, it is easy to get the pieces confused and then give up any hope of sorting them all out. Best to concentrate on just one 'Pagan History' puzzle at a time. Then we can all stand back and see if our cultural or literary or archaeological 'work' when put together with others makes an even larger picture when combined.
And then there is patience. We are talking about thousands and thousands of years of history here and thousands and thousands of puzzle pieces. Those who want to have all of the definite black-and-white answers on Pagan histories right now undoubtedly live in a constant state of frustration. We just don't know yet what we will have for a picture when most of the pieces are filled in. We probably won't know for a long time to come. Certainly we can fill in some empty spots with new rituals and rites. We have a real working and vital set of paths and religions and we do have to get on with that. But we should also be willing to go back to the drawing board when evidence is found that some Pagan 'truths' just didn't happen that way. Or at least acknowledge that what we are doing is a modern reconstruction, adaptation or even a new creation altogether of a ritual or rite. Most of the 'folk ways', like the Maypole for instance, are not 'ancient' in themselves as no reference to them before a few hundred years ago have been found. But then again, a few hundred years might be 'ancient enough' for most of us and certainly if something has become a ritual which resonates with the basic philosophies and cyclical methods of Paganism today, we can fit it into our picture. If a more 'ancient' piece of the puzzle should be discovered at some point in the future- and if it also fits well into our 'big picture'- well then we can always make the switch if we want to. 'Leaving space' for the fact that something modern might work better than something 'ancient' in our evolving religions and practices allows us some considerable flexibility while we continue to flesh things out. Just be honest about what is 'ancient' and what is 'modern', that's all. It saves a lot of back-pedaling in the long run.
Working on a puzzle can be a lot of fun. It increases the ability to focus and sharpens concentration. It builds patience and encourages the development of reasoned conjecture. You try a piece. Maybe it fits and maybe it doesn't. You check under the sofa. You go on. In the case of Pagan history, as it is in the hobby of tabletop puzzling, the journey, the work itself, is the reward. I don't know how many of the missing pieces that we will eventually find and I don't know what the final picture of 'Pagan History' will look like when more of it is filled in. But I do know this: There is no box. And there never will be a box.
Because wherever we came from and wherever we are going, Pagans are just too vibrant, too innovative and just too stubbornly freedom-loving to ever be so conveniently or neatly contained.
Walk in Love and Light,
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, December 31st., 2001
Image credit: Image used by permission and was sent in by Aelhaeran... (email exerpt) "Dear Fritz, this shot is from last Saturday's Yule gathering which, for the first time in EDO pastoral observance, we held in- doors... The gathering was an intimate, family-style affair, smaller than we have been having in the recent past. But it was deeply spiritual and moving... And by the way Fritz, it was only this week that I had the pleasure of hearing your music and... well all I can say is... WOW! You have an amazing gift"! Aelhaeran AnDubnoaedh Email
Fritz NOTE: Thanks Aelhaeran for this beautiful image and for the more than kind thoughts about my 'Tunes'.
Introducing Wren's Nest Version 6.0
Now in final Beta
It is with much pride that we present to you Wren's Nest V6.0 (beta4). Yes, it still has a few bugs and needs a final polishing but it seems functional and is easily 10 times quicker to load than version 5.1 (mostly due to our new server and a faster backend database)
Most of the week was spent learning how to understand and actually implement the PHP/MYsql combo using Wren's Nest as the test bed. It is our desire to learn these tools from the ground up. Mercifully, the Gods were on our side and our crash course did bear fruit.
All in all it was a very productive week of learning many new concepts and ideas. My thanks again go out to Max and several other Pagans that chimed in to offer support. Finally we have a dynamic feed of this valuable resource that we will 'portal' in various parts of this website...
- A load time increase of 10 fold over the previous version.
- A cleaner and smarter search engine with options to search by article content, title and source.
- A PDA version for handhelds and Cellphones.
- A redesigned side panel to offer a quicker path to other Wren features and writings.
- A temporary new masthead - This is just a mockup and will be fleshed out this week.
- Bonus: A convenient way to turn your friends on to the Nest.
- Bonus: A list of Wren's personal News links for your News hounds out there. (Revealed for the first time)
- New fields including country, state (for future feeds to your state page), a submitted by field to thank those that send over a news clip, and 'Wren chirps in' is now more intelligently dealt with and pulled in when appropriate
- A less stark background utilizing the BG image we use on this page.
- The Entire section has been moved back to it's original home here at witchvox.com (from our .net domain). Amazingly we will still get over 100 requests per day at the original url which will, ironically, once again work.
- A redirect script, at the old location, to move folks to the new nest.
- Options for Wren to amend or edit any article under her own power.
The new URL for Wren's Nest is http://www.witchvox.com/xwrensnest.html
Kindly Note that WN v6.0 is in final beta and your feedback is welcome. Also note that many enhancements are slated for Wren's Nest in the weeks to come.
With over 2 million page views it is clear that many in the Pagan community count on Wren's Nest for the latest news... I know that I do. Thanks Honey!
Witchvox officially welcomes Darragh Nagle to our staff. (profile is as follows)
Life, the universe, and everything: Darragh arrived on planet earth in Chicago, in 1954, and headed west at the age of two. He grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico. There in the land of enchantment, in the desert night under the full moon, one can hear the coyotes sing. In those mountains you can hear the earth. In those skies you can feel the spiritual connection with the universe. It is a wonderful and magical place.
Computers: Darragh studied computer programming in high school and college, and has been working in computer programming since 1972. He works in unix applications, kernels, and networking.
Music: Darragh started exploring music during childhood, and was writing songs and playing guitar by age 10. He went on to study music formally in high school chorus, and as a music composition major at the University of New Mexico and Arizona State University. Darragh became a folksinger, and he made the recordings "Lapis", "Starcrystal", "Dragon Dreams", "The Land of Faerie", and "Darragh Live at Heartland Festival". He has had the pleasure of performing with singers such as Steve Goodman, Elaine Silver, and Gwydion Penderwynn. Darragh has been singing for organizations to promote positive social growth and healing heart wisdom, including Results, Noetic Sciences, The Pilgrimage healing center, and festivals around the nation. He continues to use the heart-mind-body connection, good spirits and comedy to bring the healing powers of happiness and spirit path awareness.
Airplanes: Darragh loves to fly sailplanes and single engine airplanes. Best flying story: the time he was in a sailplane and circled in a thermal, while just across from him flew a good instructor: a red-tailed hawk.
Witches' Voice Duties: Darragh is in charge of Unix appplication support here at Witchvox.
Notes from a Pagan WebCrafter
1,000 Ideas... a dozen changes
Greetings Witches, Wiccans, Pagans and Heathens!
As we close out a year that was painful for so many, we can only project that 2002 is a better one. In 2001: Many of our friends lost their jobs, we got a new president, America tasted the hatred of the 'Evil Doers', the economy tanked and has seen some of the worst figures in a decade, the Pagan community experienced more losses though passages than we've ever seen, the Enron scandal broke and promises to reveal some horrible greed by those at the top and will no doubt involve many 'famous' politicians, the integrity of wall between Church and State took a nose dive, the media was muzzled and is 'advised' on what to say (and not to say), and freedom of speech and personal freedom were redefined... I could go on and on but now we can safely say - "That was LAST year".
Witchvox 2001 This past year was a extremely busy year for the Witches' Voice. Traffic was way up with total pages viewed surpassing 19 million (vs. 11,981,120 in 2000). This month is playing out to be our second busiest month in our seven years of doing this work. The Witchvox staff remained healthy and with jobs. Daven, Christina and Darragh were officially added to staff. Witchvox photographer Don Waterhawk delivered a steady flow of magical images. Community submissions and networking listings simply exploded and continue to render valuable resources for us all. We wrapped up the year gaining total control over the technology that drives this site, by purchasing our own server. Many NEW sections were introduced; including... "Bardic Circle", "Free MP3 tunes from us to you" (consumed some 34,000 times), "Pagan Trads and Paths" (inspired and driven by Diotima), "Pagan Perspectives - Question of the Week" (viewed 460,767 times). Although rarely noted here, TWV was featured in numerous national magazines, books and on television throughout the year. Bottom line? It was YOU that continued to build this incredible resource for the world to share.
Witchvox 2002 We enter this new year with high expectations, dreams and a new set of tools to evolved Witchvox in a very big way. This past week was a busy one for changes, updates, a staff addition and countless tweaks. Allow me to bullet point some of the ones that I remember. In the past 7 days we...
In closing, allow me to wish you all a safe and prosperous new year. As with 2001, your work will speak for itself and I highly encourage you to reach for the stars ... You can do anything you want to do. Go For IT!
- Proudly added Darragh Nagle officially to our staff, added his picture and bio to the 'meet the staff page' and take this opportunity to thank him for his unix schooling of this Witch.
- Rendered a long needed re-write of our 'About the Witches' Voice ' pages, radically changing the look and feel as well as updating much copy and adding some new pages.
- Reconfigured our new stats program(s) to automatically deliver the data we need to measure things 'round these parts.
- Redid our 'to do' list (literally adding 200 'must do' tasks to an already large list) to prioritize and map out future additions and enhancements to TWV.
- Gained some wonderful community resources to help with 'newbie' questions related to our new tools.
- Started designing the 'new schema' for Witchvox 2002.
- Gained an satisfying amount of ground in the language of PHP.
- Responded to what seemed like a record number of emails.
- Viewed and processed an astonishing number of new/updated submissions to the Witchvox networking section.
- Set many sections of this site up for 2002.
- Actually introduced Wren's Nest News Version 6.0 (beta4) and returned it to its original home here at Witchvox.com.
- Executed hundreds of changes and updates globally throughout the entire site, including color changes, page hit updates, and copy rewrites.
Proudly in YOUR Service,
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, December 31st., 2001
Powerful NEW Tradition Profile now UP!
(Pagan Trads Viewed 152,397 Times)
Once again, we are blessed to share a NEW Tradition profile with the community. Here is an excerpts and links to the full profile...
The Feri Tradition
by Steve Hewell (email@example.com)
Feri is a tradition of Neo-Pagan Witchcraft, emerging from the work and teaching of the late Victor Anderson and his wife Cora. Originally found only on the West Coast of the United States, in recent years it has spread into several parts of North America, and even overseas.
Victor was born in 1917 in New Mexico. When he was four years old, a fever left him legally blind from inoperable cataracts. After his family moved to Ashland, Oregon, he underwent a powerful experience in which he had intense visions of the Gods, that he felt was his initiation into the magical world.
Soon after, at the age of 12, he met a group of economic refugees from Southern Appalachia who had relocated in the nearby town of Bend. Seeing in him a kindred soul, they shared with him their body of magical practice which was rooted in American folk magic, and had elements of European, African-American and Native American traditions. The core of the Feri Tradition is descended from the practices of this group. -- Click for the Full Profile
If you work within an established tradition, please consider writing something for us about it. We will accept more than one essay per tradition, so feel free to send us your own view, even if there are already others posted on your tradition. Please read the Editorial Guidelines page as well as the introduction on the Traditions page before sending your essay to Diotima.
Associate Editor - Witches' Voice
December 30th., 2001
| January Teen Pagan Essays Now UP!|
We are honored to kick off our essay series for 2002 with two new essays from our Pagan young elders. Pagan Youth are clearly an inspiration to us all. They are embracing this spiritual path with a passion and conviction like we have never seen before. We are honored to feature the Young Pagan Essays for all the world to see. It is clear that their light shines brightly.
Other Young Pagan Resources at TWV: WitchVox Teen Essays MAIN Index - Young Pagans in YOUR Town (6, 638 listed) - Young Pagan Covens and Groups (310 listed) - F.A.Q.'s of the WitchVox Teen Section - Teen Article Submission Topics! Make YOUR Voice Heard! - Teen Pagan Web Sites (242 sites listed!) - Click HERE to submit YOUR Teen Pagan Site.
- The Threefold Law...
"Ever mind the rule of three" is something most Witches learn early in their training. What do you think? Is there some natural law that magnifies the energy we send out so it is returned to us "three times over"? Or is this an arbitrary number, and a misunderstanding of of the way the Universe works? Page One - Two
Essay Topics for 2002!
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.
Conversing with Pagans...
by Michael (Thought Caster)
Isn't human language a wonderful thing? It separates "Man" from "Beast." It allows us to express thought. It is the shining example that Darwin-style evolutionists use to show how we, as humans, are at the top of the "food chain." It allows humans to incorporate logic, rhetoric and philosophy into intelligible debates and, for those skilled in its use, it allows them to prevail.
Unfortunately, language is also a barrier -- one of the strongest barriers to exist. Not just between cultures and continents, mind you; between those of us who share a common language and culture as well. Language allows us to form ideas, partition thought, form biases and make determinations based on "words, " instead of "thoughts." Let me explain.
I had a word in mind: Force. Now, stop and think for a second what just entered your mind when you read that -- and hold your thought. (Continued...)
New in the Witchvox Gay Pagan section...
The Wiccan Mysteries of Gender
by Nexy Jo
"In my exposure to traditional Wiccan studies, I've come across several mentions of the 'Mysteries of the Goddess', and the 'Mysteries of the God'. Being transgendered, I began to think that I had somehow missed a part of both of these mysteries. Or perhaps I am simply part of a different set of 'mysteries' all together. Certainly, my own experiences of personal growth have been different than what most people, either male or female, encounter.
I found one of the first mentions of these mysteries on an Internet forum, and that sparked an interest for me. A Wiccan High Priestess posted a thread asking if any other Wiccan coven leaders had any experience in teaching a transgendered individual the 'Mysteries of the Goddess', even though this individual had never experienced the monthly cycles that most women go through. Not to mention the transition from childhood (girl) to adulthood (woman), or the potential for child bearing. As a transgendered woman myself, I have no personal experience in these matters, other than watching some of my friends going through this themselves. -- Click HERE for the rest of this piece.
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...)
Media Coordinator - The Witches' Voice
Monday, December 24th, 2001
Email: [Staff Page Link]
| Pagan Perspectives|
WitchVox Question of the Week!
Last week, we asked the question...
Do You Believe in Faeries? -'Yep! Seems like most of you do believe at least in the possibility of the Good Folk. Some of you have had a 'Fey Encounter' of one sort or another as well. Even as Pagans struggle to bring magic back into the world, it is nice to think that perhaps we might find some help in that endeavor from a few Otherworldly allies. -- View the Responses
This week, we ask the question:
What is/was your 2002 New Year's resolution? Did you make a secular New Year's resolution? Have you made one before that you really kept? How about the one that you didn't? 'Fess up now! What was the most significant world event of 2001? How did it change YOUR world? What about a personal breakthrough or event? What do you hope for in 2002? Post YOUR Opinion or view the Responses of others.
|"Nothing astonishes people so much as common sense and plain dealing." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson |
Blessed New Year to Everyone,
The WitchVox Staff
The Witches' Voice Inc.
Monday, December 31st., 2001
Location: Clearwater¼, Florida
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