Weekly Update: 5/20/2002|
Author: Witchvox Central
Posted: May 20th. 2002
Times Viewed: 4,881
When There is No Turning Back...
It's one of those questions that we often ask of children. I had just loaded my latest haul of books into the backseat of the car and was rubbing the pressure bruise off of my arm (So many books, so little flexor muscle strength!) when that question just popped into my head. Huh? Looking around the library parking lot, I half expected to see my senior year English teacher, Mr. Simpson, tapping his foot impatiently against the asphalt while waiting for the answer. Instinctively, I blurted out, "The Red Badge of Courage!" Flashing a sheepish grin to the guy sitting in the next car, I pretended to be checking off titles on some imaginary clipboard on the seat next to me. But if you had pulled Mr. Simpson for senior English like I had, you'd understand. Mr. Simpson had this 'thing' for the J.C. (Jesus Christ) complex in literature. All heroes, in the world according to Simpson, possessed this willingness to sacrifice himself or herself in one way or another for a greater good or cause. If a student could find this connection in whatever book that we were studying at the time, one could pretty much rest easy that one would get a 'B' on the test. But even though he had this quite peculiar romantic streak, Simpson was also one of the toughest teachers that I have ever known. Gandhi himself would never have scored a clean 'A' in that class. So, that such a question should come in Mr. Simpson's voice didn't surprise me. That such a question should come up at all, however, did.
"So, what do you want to be when you grow up?"
At 51 years-old, I'd have to say that I have been 'grown up' for quite a while now and a quick glance into the rearview mirror confirmed that the 'laugh lines' and the silver hair are indeed still there to prove it. So what's your point, Mr. Simpson, and what are you doing in my head after all of these years? I haven't heard from you since 1969 and by the way, I always hated 'The Red Badge of Courage'. (Just so you know.) Are you disappointed that I didn't become that English Lit teacher or a published poet? Yes, those were indeed my goals at 19 and I wasn't just sucking up to Mr. S. when I said so. Of course, I wanted to be an archaeologist shortly after I had 'discovered' Ancient Egypt and an artist when I finally got my very first box of 64-color Crayolas- you know, the one with the cool sharpener on the back- too. And I ended up being none of those things either. But how did I end up here?
I took a right onto Belcher Street at the light and then another right at the... Okay. I actually do remember how I ended up here. Whew! At least I know that I can find my way back when these books are due. But just how did I find myself here- as in sitting in a library parking lot, talking to my inconveniently invisible (Good use of alliteration there, Wren) former English teacher and all the while hopefully reassuring the guy next to me that I am not really a danger to small children- was the question that I now was forced to ponder. The wide disparity gap between what I wanted to be then and who I actually grew up to become seems to indicate a failure of sorts if one is so inclined to chart and score these things. Truth is, I didn't achieve any of the career goals that I had set for myself back then. That may have disappointed some people. In fact, I am sure that it has disappointed some people. But no regrets here. I wouldn't have it any other way.
If you've ever been thinking about what to cook for dinner and then 20 minutes later found yourself wondering how it is that mosquitoes always seem to find you (and just you) in a crowd, then you know how one thing can just lead to another until you are in a very different spot from hence you started. Life is like that, too. What we start out to do- or to become- often takes us to places and through experiences and into areas that we never even dreamed of before. The results can be a bit-shall we say- quirky?
And yet, if we sit down and retrace our steps, we often find that there is a plan of sorts at work. Now just whose plan that might be is something that I think that we all wonder about from time to time. It seems, in retrospect, that certain people or circumstances presented themselves at just the right time or place to influence or move us in one direction or another. One's life seems to be made up of a few radical, conscious path-altering decisions surrounded by a multitude of small almost unconscious ones. Most of the time - and at the time - none of those 'little' choices seem to be very important at all. But when we begin to put them all together we often realize just how much impact that an otherwise insignificant decision to 'go here' or to 'try that' had upon our then unknown future. One small such incident can set up a scenario that eventually changes everything.
If then we are so often ignorant of the forces that sometimes guide our way, how can we know that the decisions that we have made-the choices that have led us to where we now are- are/were the right ones? Should I be feeling guilty about not finishing college and not becoming an English Lit teacher or an archaeologist because those were goals that I had once set for myself? Did I end up here as just another victim of circumstance, much like a leaf floating downstream on the current, by no will of my own? How do we know when or if things have turned out the way that they were 'supposed' to?
You know that you are right where you are supposed to be when you realize one thing. When you feel it with all of your being. When speaking the very words sends chills down your spine. When you look at all of those decisions- both large and small- which brought you to where and to who you are now and know that, even if you could, you would not change a single one of them if it meant that you might end up somewhere else than where you are right now.
That is not to say that each individual action is necessarily worthy of praise. We all have done things that we should not have done. And we have left undone many things that we should have been taking care of. But added all together, the triumphs and the failures, the joys and the sorrows, the good and the bad (and sometimes the very ugly), we can see that these were all the steps and the lessons that brought us to the point where each one of us can truthfully say in our heart of hearts: "For me, there is no turning back."
Even when I am discouraged, there is no turning back. Even when I am misunderstood, there is no turning back. Even when I am tired of fighting this uphill battle against the majority paradigm, there is no turning back. Even when it would be easier to be silent, there is no turning back. Even when some people in my own community abuse my trust, there is no turning back. Even on those days when I wonder if anything that I do will make any sort of difference at all, there is no turning back. I am a Pagan and I always will be a Pagan; there is no turning back. I serve the Gods and I serve Their people and there is no turning back. Whatever may come, I will stand up and meet it because for me, there is no turning back.
And that is how you know if you are where you are supposed to be and doing what you are supposed to be doing. You could be doing anything else. You could still choose to do something else. You have free will. You could change your mind because this Pagan path is too hard. You could keep silent because speaking out as a Pagan is too dangerous. You could always become something else because certain people are disappointed that you became a Pagan. You still could.
But you won't. When you get to that place where you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are exactly where you are supposed to be, you won't. So sorry, Mr. Simpson, if you are disappointed. I am not what either you or I expected me to be back in 1969. Neither you nor I could see it then, but another path was opening up ahead that ultimately would lead me to right here and right now.
And, for me, there is no turning back.
Walk in Love and Light,
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, May 20th., 2002
Photo Credit: Thanks go out to Wvox staff photographer Don "Two Eagles" Waterhawk (Web) for this powerful image. (location: Wendyl and Bill's ritual space in Ft. Meyers, Florida).
An Irish Witch visits America
by Bev Richardson
Wren and I have been honored to know and love Bev since our early days on the net and now that we've announced a sabbatical from Pagan Gatherings perhaps our dream of visiting Bev, Del and fam at Castle Pook in Ireland will actually be realized.
Bev balances kindness and spirit along with a no BS approach in his dealings with the community. Ever the community servant, he is one of the few that we truly respect as an Elder of the Craft. Last month, Bev made us aware of his trip to the states and we all but sandbagged him into penning his experience. What follows is that experience. Thank YOU my brother, thanks for inspiring us all.
It is now Monday afternoon and I have been home at Pook since Thursday last, though what with jetlag and tiredness I have not been up to typing at all.
To think, only three short weeks ago I was packing my bags to leave in the morning early: very early, we left Pook at 4:30am (I went to the pookstream to bathe first) so as to be at the airport for a 6am flight to Heathrow .. this part of my journey with Aerlingus... then from London on with American airlines .. both cross Atlantic and all internal US flight with these people .. so firstly I should thank the airport and cabin staff who treated me with such courtesy and kindness... thank you all...
The journey was not the most pleasant part of my trip. I am not comfortable with air travel at all... My arrival in the early hours of Wednesday the 22nd at Norfolk Virginia was like a homecoming. Betsy Ashby and her brother John, who hurried me through bag retrieval, met me and then she drove me to her campground, where the gathering was to be held. After setting me down in the trailer that was to be my home there she drove me round on a grand tour in her golf cart, this with Grith dog to guard us both... and yes by the lake I did see Betsy's beaver ... in fact I shall make a badge to announce the fact
--- Click HERE for the Full Review
New this week in your Trads and Paths Chapter...
Hellenism (Hellenic Ethnic Tradition)
(Trads at TWV Viewed over 1/4 of a Million Times)
Once again, we are blessed to share a NEW Tradition profile with the community... Here is an excerpt and a hot link to the full profile
Hellenism (Hellenic Ethnic Tradition) (by Kresphontes)
Hellenism (Hellinikos Ethnismos) is an ancient indigenous tradition born and evolved in Hellas (Greece), is not simply a Religion and Cosmotheory, it is a certain form of human consciousness and an everyday ethos and is the most well-documented of the ancient polytheistic nature-Religions. It's above all a political and social "how to" theory that means to "haunt" the Every Day Life with its high principles: Dignity, Freedom, Beauty, Honesty, Variety, Tolerance, Candor...
Hellenism perceives Cosmos (KOSMOS, i.e. the Universe) as an ever-existing Being, which not only was not created by some "creator" God out of nothing (EK TOU MEDENOS), but on the contrary allowed the Gods themselves to be created through its procedures.
Hellenism understands Cosmos as APEIRON (Infinity) in great, wonderful order and therefore in Hellenic language Cosmos means also jewel (KOSMOS, KOSMEMA). Gods were born inside the Cosmos and live inside it -they are part of it. This is our real dispute with the so-called "Monotheism;" not the number of Gods (One or Many, Mono- or Poly-) but where the God or Gods stand in relation to the Cosmos. For the "Monotheists" the Cosmos was created by an ever -existing Being outside it, is a creation that has to obey the laws of its "creator". For us Hellenes, the eternal Cosmos emerges always from inside of itself and is the creator of all Gods, which have to obey its own laws. -- Click for the Full Profile
If you work within an established tradition, please consider writing something for the community 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
Monday, May 20th., 2002
Oberon Zell's Gaia Goddess - Truly a Magickal Working!
Wren and I shared some quality time with Oberon Zell at CMA last month (see review) and couldn't help but compliment him on his Gaia Goddess creation. We had seen it up close at our good friends the Waterhawks (happy hatchday D!) last fall and fell in love with it's magick and it's amazing detail. This week are honored to 'turn you on' to this sculpture. Here is some info from the Mythic Images Website...
Oberon Zell's greatest masterwork, the Millennial Gaia is the Goddess image for the new Millennium! This "Sermon in Stone" is Oberon's expression of a growing global Earth-based consciousness. More and more of "mainstream" culture is becoming aware of the name and concept of "Gaia." For more info on the creation visit the Mythic Images Website.
"When I sculpt a human figure, I always work from live models whom I feel particularly exemplify the archetype I wish to portray. Often I will use several models at various stages, from the initial nude photo studies to final costuming. Working from the photos enlarged to the exact size of the figure, I form a wire armature in the chosen pose, then I build a detailed nude figure of Sculpey over it. Finally, appropriate clothing is added, one layer at a time. Additional props, bases, animals, wings, etc. are created separately and then melded into place around the figure. I might spend as much as a year on a single sculpture, often working on several simultaneously".
"I am inspired by the Goddess, the beauty of women, Nature, mythology, fantasy, imagination, history, archaeology, and the marvelous and infinitely varied forms of creatures produced throughout the evolution of life on Earth. My artistic mission (and that of TheaGenesis LLC) is to re-sacralize Western Civilization by re-introducing ancient mythic".
Officers of Avalon: A New International Organization for Pagan Emergency Personnel
Something extraordinary is about to happen. Something that has never happened before. What started as an e-group for Pagan emergency personnel is turning into the first international organization for Pagan emergency personnel: Officers of Avalon. We've obtained the domain name (www.officersofavalon.com) and one of our members is working on our web site even as I write this. Even more extraordinary, we are now working toward the first ever international gathering of Pagan cops, firefighters, paramedics, and EMTs ever held. We are just now discussing where and exactly when this event should take place. The two locations suggested are Las Vegas and Washington DC.
Officers of Avalon wants to show the world that we follow a valid and respectable spiritual path. We want to show the people of the free world that some of the people who are defending that freedom are Pagans like us. We want to establish a support network for those Pagans within the emergency services who do not yet feel that they can safely make their Pagan beliefs public.
I've volunteered to be the spokesperson for this new organization. We're looking for your support. If any of you know of any Pagan emergency personnel out there, please pass this information on to them. If any of you can help in any way, please contact us.
25 years ago I was the first Wiccan cop to come out of the broom closet. Please help us let all of the other Pagans working to make you safe come out as well.
Officers of Avalon
Note: The web site is not yet up, so there is no link below. Contact Kerr, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Dissed by Buffy? What's All This, Then?
by Peg (with comments from Natalina, Talloak Trueheart, Angelwings Plumblossom, Spanning Cosmos, Grey Rainbow, Lorelei Raintears, Roan Lake, Salmon of Knowledge, and Callisto)
[Warning to UK Buffy Fans: Spoilers ahead!]
A number of people have written to me to ask what I thought about the current storyline on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (in which Willow avenges Tara's death by murdering her killer and wreaking vengeance everywhere she can. Since Tara and Willow reconciled after Willow had sworn off magic for a long period of time, the immediacy with which Willow takes to black magic to express her rage and grief is shocking. But, as always, it is an interesting exploration of the problems young adults face as they mature and gain experience in relationships, work and self-awareness (which, beneath the vampire lore and martial arts fighting and dusty old magic relics and spell books, is what is really going on with this show). A witch using black magic? This makes us uncomfortable, even as the show has never tried to equate the cgi-laden spells and workings of Willow with anything that real witches do.
But the real problem came when the UPN teaser for next week's season finale came on: that announcer guy's smooth voice (like mercury dripping off an athame) saying, as the text appeared on the screen in that trendy gothic font: "Hell Hath No Fury Like a Wiccan Scorned." This, we don't like at all. Using this word so many have adopted as a friendly-sounding alternative to "witch" and which has become more familiar to non-pagans because of its use by news and entertainment media, is, let us say, problematic when it is equated with evil and vengeance. That it may not have been Joss Whedon or Mutant Enemy (the Buffy production company) but the network, UPN, responsible, doesn't necessarily make us feel better.
--- Click For Full Article & Comentary from a Panel of Fans
Notes from a Pagan WebCrafter
Why The Webby Awards are Important
Listening to: Mavis Staples
Atmosphere: Thunder and Lightening
Reading: Isaac Bonewits: Witchcraft: A Concise History
Snarfing On: Reese's Classic "two pack"
Greetings Pagans, Witches, Heathens and Wiccans!
Two weeks ago, several of you made us aware of the Webby Awards and the fact that NO PAGAN sites were nominated. We quickly encouraged you to write in ANY Pagan site that you deemed appropriate. Later that week, TWV was in the running and actually IN second place passing all but Beliefnet. This past week, we started to realize many things... Not the least of which was that this is a pretty big deal AND that it serves our "mission statement" in a big way.
You see, I am a measurement freak; a creature that is simply fascinated by where folks go, what they like and how they react to just about everything. Social trends and changes are of particular interest and although quite subjective, the Webby awards are yet another measure. This past week, I have been tracking, with fascination, ALL of the categories over at the Webbys. There are many surprises, interesting comments and tight races. Yes, we really ARE discovering that this IS a big deal.
Webby History: Tiffany Shlain founded the Webbys in 1996. Ideas are cheap and the need for a REAL net awards academy has always been there. She made this happen, despite countless 'wanna-be award sites' competitors. It is clear that she is a pro (not to mention a major babe) and is responsible for manifesting all of this. The Webbys are the Oscars for the internet and audited by the famous and trusted, Price-Waterhouse.
As I alluded to last week, the Pagan community embraced the 'net like no other spiritual path did. We needed it and worked it for news and networking from the early days. Pagans are smart, savvy and creative folk. Many ARE the 'Brainiacs from Smarton' that run much of the infrastructure OF the Web via their 'day jobs'. We are serious net folk, always have been, and always will be.
For over 30 years modern Pagans, from all over the world, have been working awareness campaigns about what we are and what we ARE NOT. With the advent of the Internet, this mission was taken into overdrive. TWV is but one of thousands of Pagan Websites that have helped to educate the masses by dispelling the manipulative and erroneous claims made by some mainstream Spiritual Paths. The Webbys give us yet another opportunity to open some eyes and to clarify that we are not simply an obscure spiritual path hiding in the background. Pagan Paths don't proselytize or look for those to 'convert', and as a rule, we are much more respectful to the individual, granting THEM the right to choose their own spiritual path.
A Witch Site in First Place? HOW did that happen?
As we went to press this week, Witchvox was in the number one position in the 'Best Spiritual Website' category. To say we are thrilled would be an understatement. BUT with three weeks to go anything could happen. So Do VOTE if you haven't already! It's also worth noting that write-ins in this category are holding the largest percentage of ANY category at the Webbys with 60% of total (MOST being Pagan sites).
When we were made aware that NO PAGAN sites were nominated a couple of weeks ago, we really were surprised. We found this odd, in that Pagan sites are plentiful (We list 4,924 in our links section and believe there to be over 8,000 at this time.) and many ARE world class in design and many ARE doing some serious traffic. Since then, many have asked this question in their comments at the People's Voice award page. In fact, many have asked why Witchvox wasn't nominated. We found this puzzling as well and did some research. Apparently you can pay to be considered for nomination. Fair enough, but further research reveals that a panel of experts, ("Essentially, they have their cursors on the pulse of the Internet; they've seen the trends Web and flow, they know what's here, and they've got the clearest view of the horizon.") for each category, have the right to nominate a site that didn't 'pony up the cash'. They nominated one interfaith site, 3 Christian sites and one Islamic site based on their judging criteria. In their opion these were the BEST spiritual sites on the net. In the first three weeks of the People's Voice voting, 60% said NO WAY and wrote in their own choice. Judging from the 'reviews' (even of the nominated sites), the surfers of the net have a very different idea as to their fave. This is why they offer the Peoples Voice awards.
Last week, I stated (and later omitted) that it was doubtful that we would pay for nomination consideration. We are reconsidering this for 2003, but haven't made a decision at this time.
The Main Stream press are getting excited about the Webbys, and some are noting potential social trends as well...
"The Vatican is taking on Islam and the peace corps will be battling against the US army. But there will be no blood on the walls whoever wins because they are only competing in the annual Webby awards. .. Will we be able to tell whether the Catholic church has survived its battering over its shifty behaviour in the cases of pedophile priests in the US if it beats Islamic Studies and takes the Religion prize? - Duncan Campbell - Guardian Unlimited - 4/30/2002" (full article)
Interesting thoughts, Duncan, and it really does depend on whether you are talking about the vote of 300 experts or that of the millions that do surf the net. The experts that will vote the winners are actually quite limited in their choices (I am not sure if THEY can do write ins) and may indeed pick the Vatican over Islamic Studies (I predict it will be the 20 Million Dollar Beliefnet venture all the way). As a community created/driven/supported website, we simply must give the most credence to the Peoples Voice. The Peoples Voice will be a measure of both interest and respect at several levels. To us, they are all that matters.
The Vatican site HAS been on the net since the early days and has always been a beautiful creation. Some Christian groups came slowly to the net with those that saw an opportunity to generate even more cash (CBN.org, Falwell.org and the like) being quicker than others. Many Christian orgs never will. They simply don't want to deal with the freedom OF speech so prevalent on the net. This IS changing and in a shocking statement, just this past week the Pope reversed his position on the net and is now endorsing it! 'The Internet - a new forum for proclaiming the Gospel" (see Pope Gives Internet His Blessing for article link). I am not sure that much of a battle is going on between the Vatican and Islam over at the Webbys, but one thing is clear, I'll bet 'the experts' didn't expected to see ANY Pagan site with 35% of the total vote.
The Pagan Path is one followed by millions across the world and the majority of the Press knows this (In the past 4 years, Wren has linked to over 4,000 media articles with 75% of them being about our community and 90% of those articles are POSITIVE portrayals). So it IS surprising when the assumptions are based in 1991 thinking. Even Beliefnet quickly reshaped their creation to respectfully accommodate the interest in Earth Based Spirituality early on in their development.
Thrilled would be an Understatement! Because we HAVE recently realized that the Webbys ARE a big deal, we are thrilled that Pagan sites are doing so well in the People's Voice voting.
Witchvox has never had a guest book so trust us when we say that the 'review comments' at the Webby Spiritual site have blown us away. 99% of the email we have received over the past 6 years are requests to serve by announcing, fixing, helping or just plain listening. Thank you from all of us and do know that complimentary emails are rare (and appreciated), but not expected. We are community service folk- NO STRINGS attached.
Your generous compliments about TWV have revealed to us that some of you DO CARE that we try hard to be fair and neutral and many of you DO appreciate a site without obnoxious banner or cube advertising. Many of you also stated that you appreciate both commitment and timeliness. The Witchvox staff thanks you for these observations.
Although there are three weeks remaining in the voting, we are overjoyed for you and many of you are excited for TWV (one and the same as far as we are concerned). YOU made Witchvox what it is and has been for the past 6 years... and ONLY you will decide the winner of the Webby Awards. YOUR VOTE is Critical to the Outcome of This --- Vote Your Pagan Pride Vote for Any Pagan site that YOU feel is appropriate by CLICKING HERE.
So are those surprised voters checking out TWV? I have every reason to believe that they are. History dictates that we can expect a 10-15% dip in traffic at this time of the year (mostly due to things wrapping up at the universities), yet this past week, we experienced two record-breaking days... Saturday has always been our slowest day of the week, yet, yesterday came in as our busiest day EVER delivering 91,340 Page Views (220,941 page element hits - see stats from server logs) to seekers of the Pagan Path.
More on this as it develops.
In your service,
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, May 20th., 2002
Location: Clearwater¼, Florida
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