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Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
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October 20th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits
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The History of the Sacred Circle
Abandoning Expectations and Remembering Your Roots
September 28th. 2014 ...
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September 20th. 2014 ...
GOD AND ME (A Pagan's Personal Reply to the New Atheists)
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Deer Man- A Confounding Mystery
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August 24th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Cultural and Spiritual Appropriation
The Pagan Cleric
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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Article ID: 14372
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Author: Crick [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: January 30th. 2011
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It is a cold and blustery morning as I head out to an ancient forest draping itself about the peaks of a tired old mountain. Meandering along the foot of this local mountain is a frozen creek, its banks glistening with early morning frost; I notice a grove of Willows just ahead. Suddenly I begin to think of the goddess Proserpina, whom among her many roles stands forth as a Roman Goddess of Fertility. One can envision her scarf-clad priestesses as they swirl about with willow fronds in preparation of fertility rites; for the slim leaved willow has long been associated with the magic of fertility.
Many other gifts are the offerings of the elegant willow. Such as medicine for ones aches and pains, and the wands and besoms that witches are fond of having about. A willow grove is also a place for meandering about on the psychic seas. Oh yes, I feel a sense of awe of the many qualities that such a delicate sister brings to the panorama of the silent forest that stretches for miles ahead of this old witch.
Here and there are a few birch trees, standing proud as they display their distinctive silvery bark. I think of those who have quietly tied a red ribbon around such trees to ward off the evil eye. Were their efforts rewarded, I wonder? And what of the many pagan children whose cribs were made from the birch to protect them from negative influences. For the birch is said to exorcise those entities considered as unwanted. And one cannot help but remember with fond memory, the joyous laughs of folks who joined in dancing around the maypole during Beltain. For it is of the birch that traditional maypoles are made.
As the bitter wind rustles through a forest lying dormant in anticipation of spring, the journey turns towards the heart of the forest. The spiritual presence of this foreboding place makes it hard to breathe at times, and yet at others there is a wild urge to just dance and swirl about.
Suddenly a quiet and secluded meadow is revealed. And circled about is a strand of ash trees.
Many are the ancient Gods that identify with the noble ash. For instance the wise Odin, who was self- sacrificed on the tree of life known as the Yggdrasil. For the Yggdrasil is a tree of ash. The Norse believes that the first man, named “Ask”, was formed from an ash tree.
From the Greek comes the goddess, Nemesis. It is by her ash scourge that the gods addressed matters of justice. It is through her ash scourge that thunder is thought to originate. And many a besom has their handles graced with the ash. Do not stand next to the ash when lightening is flashing across the sky, for it is the ash that draws their attention.
The Dryads of the ash trees known as the Meliai should be approached gently. Such creatures tend to be very shy and timid. And it is their magic that heals as one passes a child though a split in the ash tree.
The ash is renowned for removing warts. This is done by sticking a pin into the bark of an ash tree and thus letting it energize. And then picking the wart with this pin and afterwards returning it back to the bark of the same ash tree. The leaves of the ash are often utilized in love and prosperity spells by those of the Craft; so many gifts by such a gentle tree.
Standing in the background for miles upon miles are the venerable oak trees. One can hear whispers of solemn chants extending back into the depths of time. As I walk amongst these elders of the forest, I envision strands of oak trees serving as a backdrop for secret rituals framed in the night by the tendrils of a sacred bonfire.
One can hear the enchanting voice of Pelias as she prophesies the messages of Zeus. She does this from an oracle located at the foot of a giant oak tree in the sacred grove at Dodona. The Many different Gods of Thunder from varied pantheons stand solemn watch over their groves. For often is the oak split asunder by blasts of lightening, an expression of the power of such entities.
The Druids themselves draw their name from that of the mighty oak. The name druid comes from the Celtic “Druides” which means oak knower. As I take a seat beneath a towering oak, some wrens alight in the branches above my head. I think back to how the Druids would listen to the song of these feathered denizens in apt attention as they formed visions of prophesy. The wise wizard known as Merlin was reputed to have fashioned his wand from the uppermost branches of a tall oak tree.
For protection, no other tree serves as well as the oak. Often in days past was a protective charm inscribed in the oak consisting of a circle and two lines of equal parts to separate the elements of, Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Also the oak tree is thought to be the first “knock on wood” charm. The acorn also has its associations with fertility and immortality. I wonder how many wee ones began their journey by way of an acorn placed beneath one’s pillow. Wearing an oak leaf on one’s chest next to the heart is said to protect the wearer from lies and acts of deceit.
If one listens closely while sitting in the oak grove, you can hear the raucous cries of “Herne the Hunter”, the leader of the legendary Wild Hunt, who resides in the seclusion of the oak trees.
And so this witch heads towards the gentle slopes of the surrounding mountains. With each frosted breath I wander closer to the top of the mountain and thus I notice that among the shallow valleys falling into hidden shadows, are small groupings of Elder trees. Thoughts from my childhood go floating by of a curious child making a whistle out of Elder bark in order to conjure up the wind.
Were I to travel down into the elder trees, I would be prone to pay homage to Hylde-Moer. She is the Elder-tree Mother, also known as a spirit witch who resides within the Elder tree. Very sage is the one who plants Elder trees on their property to stave off from the effects of lightening. But very foolish is the one who cuts an Elder down without first paying homage to Hylde-Moer. And while it would be tempting for this old man to take a quick nap beneath the Elder, it would not be wise. As a tree associated with Faeries, it is said that those who fall asleep beneath an Elder will not re-awaken.
And so I continue walking on. A short time later I reach a crest of the mountain and there before me are growing Hawthorn. I have a personal affinity for this tree, for I take a heart tonic made from the berries. The Hawthorn has long been associated with marriage and childbirth as evidenced by its association with the Roman Goddess “Cardea”. Having a newlywed couple dance around a Hawthorn tree is considered a positive way to start off such a union. At one time it was a practice of farmers to hang the afterbirth of premature calves onto Hawthorn shrubs as protection for that calf. The Hawthorn is an excellent choice for spells involving purity and protection.
The Hawthorn is one of the best-known trees associated with faeries. Many pagans are aware of the term Oak, Ash, and Thorn, which is associated with portals leading into the realm of the faeries. And since there is a likelihood that the fey are about, I am going to take my leave from this sharing and so my journey ends here. But I hope that the experience will continue on as you yourself take to meandering through the forests…
Location: Manheim, Pennsylvania
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