The Real Reason for the Season is NOT Jesus

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3rd Wednesday: Current Events (issues from one Wiccan Witch’s perspective)

Hello my Witchy friends & tree-hugging buddies, and Blessed Solstice to you all! Because today is our holiday, I will keep this Wednesday’s Word rather brief and to the point. It’s not actually directed at you; this is an open letter to some (not all) Christians.

Dear Christians Who Believe there Is a ‘War On Christmas’:

I know you are probably very excited this month about the coming of your holiday. I know that you celebrate the Birth of Christ on the 25th, and that even though Easter is the most holy high holiday on the Christian calendar, Christmas is probably nearer and dearer to many of you, and warm your hearts like a cup of hot cocoa in the dead of a cold winter night.

I know, too, that you think there is a War on your holiday because some of us choose to use greetings other than ‘Merry Christmas.’ I know you feel that others are intruding on your holiday because we want to celebrate our own as well. I know you feel that a simple red cup or a ‘holiday sale’ sign somehow dampens your spirits and tramples on your rights.

I’d like to point out a few things that will hopefully make you rethink the issue.

  1. Jesus isn’t the reason for the season. I know you’ve been told that, and people in your religion might have made him the reason for your season, but it just doesn’t translate outside Christianity. Jesus was brought into older Solstice festivities and traditions that went on long before Christianity existed. If you would like to celebrate Jesus during this season there is certainly room for him; but you can’t force the rest of us to recognize him and him alone. That is an unfair expectation.
  2. Christian churches fought against Christmas until less than 200 years ago. Christians thought Christmas was evil because it was wild revelry left over from Pagan times. Churches used to close for Christmas. In early America, it was banned. The New York Police Department was created with the sole intent of cracking down on Christmas revelers. It was only Victorian writers like Charles Dickens who re-painted Christmas in a new light of warmth, family and hope in the mid-1800’s. Jesus was not the reason for the season for centuries.
  3. Your holiday in the USA is a federal holiday, where there is a separation of Church & State. No one has to celebrate Christmas, and if they do celebrate it, they do not have to make Jesus a part of the celebration. You can either withdraw Christmas from being a federal holiday and reclaim it as a religious holiday (and keep it for yourselves), or you can keep it a federal holiday and accept that the rest of us do not have to celebrate it in a religious manner. But you can’t have it both ways. You can’t make Jesus be the reason for MY season.
  4. I am all for lights, trees, snowmen and other pretty scenes being displayed in public. I am fine with parades, festivals and other types of celebrations. You’ll get no arguments from me about mall Santas (another Pagan origin). On private property– have at it! No holds barred! But if you’re going to bring a holiday into the public arena of a country that offers religious freedom, then you have to let us non-Christians celebrate the season, too. That means secular Christmas celebrations, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, etc. That means if you want manger scenes on the front lawn of city hall, you have to accept a Goddess display if the local Pagans want it too. Or you can ban them both. I don’t want to take away anyone’s rights by having a Goddess display; but our rights should be equal. I would not demand special privileges– nor should you.
  5. If I want to donate a Goddess display for that front lawn, it’s not because I want to take anything  away from you. Your perception that my celebrating Solstice rather than Christmas is meant to be some slight on you, or some war against you, frankly displays a ridiculous ego. It’s not about you. My traditions are meaningful to me, just as yours are to you. My fellow Pagans, though a minority, care about our season as much as you care about yours. We celebrate for different specifics, but all holidays in the season are entrenched in light, hope, peace and goodwill. You need to exhibit some of that goodwill by not throwing tantrums that everyone doesn’t clear the way and let only you do what you want. Learn to share– the country belongs to all of us.
  6. I say Happy Holidays. It is my greeting of choice in public. I don’t say it to offend you, I have been saying it for over 20 years since Christmas is not my holiday. I have been saying it since back when it was considered a friendly holiday greeting, before extremists decided that it was somehow an effort to stamp out any specific celebrations. You can say Merry Christmas all you want. You can print it on your business signs and ads. You can put it on your garage door and your church banner. You can tell it to me when I pass you on the street this month. You can sing it from the rooftops all the live long day for all I care… I assume you are offering it with a sincere sentiment. That’s fine. Christmas is not my holiday though; it’s not the first thought that jumps to my mind this season, or the first word that leaps to my lips. For me, it is the holiday season… my wishing you a Happy Holiday, particularly if I don’t know you, is meant as a friendly gesture. If I had a store, I would write ‘Holiday Sale’ on the signs. If you take it as a declaration of war on your holiday, you seriously need to take a chill pill because you’re misreading it; But that is not my problem that you’re overreacting and being hypersensitive. That’s something you need to deal with.
  7. No one can take your holiday away from you. Your holiday, if it has real meaning to you, cannot be wiped away just because it is not forced upon the public everywhere. Plenty of people of minority religions have been celebrating their highly religious holidays forever without needing every store and television station and radio station and neighbor to join in. If you think your holiday has less meaning just because it isn’t foisted upon the rest of the public, then again– this is something you need to deal with. You might want to re-examine the meaning of the holiday and put the expectations of making your celebration merry and bright on yourselves, rather than dumping that expectation of giving you a merry and bright holiday the way you want it  on the rest of us. I’ve celebrated the Solstice for 25 years; while it’s lovely when my Pagan community can acknowledge it in public, I’ve never felt I needed anything outside of my own heart, my own mind, my own spirit or outside my own front door to ‘give’ me my holiday. If you do, then you are probably missing the point of your own. We can’t give it to you, or take it away from  you. You  have to find it within yourself.
  8. I don’t want to take your holiday away. I want you to have it, and enjoy it. My religion is not at war with yours. We believe you have the right– the responsibility, even– to follow your beliefs. All we’re asking for is the same courtesy.

So I do wish you, dear Christians, A Very Merry Christmas. And a Happy Holiday, to you and everyone else as well. It is the season of beautiful holidays, and I’m glad to live in a country in which we can all observe them, share them and express ourselves in whatever way we wish.

~Sage

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Out with the Old, In with the New

2nd Wednesday: Cottage Witch Corner (everything home, garden & family)

It’s almost a new year, and on the verge of 2017 it is a great time to do a little magical maintenance in your life. New Year’s Eve/Day is full of energy people all over the world lend to it, it offers a lot of magical potential. Unless you grew up in a tribe in South America that was cut off for civilization, the understanding of New Year’s Eve/Day being an annual ‘rite of passage’ of sorts is embedded in your subconscious, so it’s a good ‘program’ to work with.

Many cultures around the world have long-standing traditions around Winter Solstice/early January to help ring in the new year right. The goal was to clear away anything plaguing us that we don’t need anymore, and paving the way for health, wealth and happiness to come to us. Let’s turn to some of those traditions and see how we can adapt them for our own spiritual magical practices.

Clearing Out the Old

In Ecuador, people burn scarecrows at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and photographs from the previous year. Fire has been seen as a means of purification in many cultures, and it can be a great way to purify energies no longer serving you in your life.

If you have a back yard fire pit or a fireplace, stuff a simple rag doll or poppet form with papers and pictures representing the things you want to leave behind as the old year comes to a close. It might be old dreams and goals, old relationships, old pains and losses. Whatever it is, use the transformative power of fire to turn the negative energy into something more positive and hopeful.

If you don’t have a fireplace/pit, try cutting out paper dolls and writing your wishes on them. You can burn them in a heat-proof pot somewhere safe.

Cleanse Yourself

In Sri Lanka, Buddhists take an herbal purification bath to purify themselves. In Burma people splash water at each other.  Water, like fire, is also cleansing, but instead of transforming anything water just washes us clean so we can start fresh.

It’s a great time to make an herbal cleansing bath or potion so that you enter the new year fresh and unfettered. Mix some sage, sandalwood, rosemary, lavender, hyssop or any other herb you use for cleansing together. Steep it in water to make a strong tea, then throw that tea into your bath water. Put some in a spray bottle, too, so you can go around spritzing your home.

Scare Away the Demons

If you’re worried there are any bad entities hanging around you or your home, make lots of noise on New Year’s Eve. This is where the tradition of exploding fireworks and blowing noisemakers comes from– it’s supposed to scare away any ghosts, demons or generally bad little buggars that are hanging around.

Try a bell. In Japan, on New Year’s Eve, they ring a bell 108 times for this purpose.

Set Up a Shrine

Worshiping various deities on New Year’s Day is a great way to attempt to gain a bit of their favor for the year to come. Ancient Romans would honor Janus at the turn of the year, the God of comings and goings. The month of January was named after him. He has two faces—one looking back, another looking forward. They would pay homage to Janus on the last day/first day of every month, at weddings and other events that meant the end of one time and beginning of another. In particular, Janus was honored at new year.

Put out a picture, statue or plaque of Janus somewhere (you can print pictures off the internet if you don’t have something suitable). Leave a couple of candles there and a little bowl for offerings. Say a prayer and give Him a gift of bay laurel incense, flowers, or a libation of honey wine. Thank him for the blessings of the old year and ask him to thrice bless you in the new!

Use Symbolism to Draw What You Want

In China, the front door was usually painted red on New Year’s Day because it symbolizes good fortune. Chinese families look to draw good fortune to their home. While color symbolism is very subjective, you could try putting something red on your door— or whatever color symbolizes what you hope will come to you. Perhaps a green wreath for money, a big blue ribbon for healing, or a swag of roses and lavender for love.

Think about the color you want to be wearing when you take your first steps into the New Year as well—choose your outfit carefully. Do up your hair and adorn yourself in a way that reflects what you wish to happen this year. Perhaps you’re hoping to graduate chef school; spend some time wearing a chef smock. Perhaps you’re hoping your finances will increase exponentially—wear your finest garments, or buy something new for the occasion. Hoping to get married? Slip that blue garter on your leg under your skirt—no one has to know! Cover and surround yourself with the things that represent your goals for this year; it’ll help you focus on drawing that energy toward you.

Be Generous

If you want money this new year, don’t forget to spread the wealth. After all, you reap what you sow. Stuff your pockets or purse full of coins. Spread them around—give them to children, leave them as offerings to deities or nature spirits, plunk some into charity collection jars, and sprinkle them around your property like confetti. Always keep some on you, too—don’t ever go broke!

Remember the law of attraction: like attracts like.

Break Bread

It’s impossible to talk about new year’s traditions without adding food into the mix, as food is probably the most common way people around the world celebrate anything. Food is also magical, no different from herbs, bones and other magical ingredients. In many cultures, people would eat beans for the New Year—beans. Stories about magic beans and bean stalks shouldn’t come as a surprise. Beans have long been used in folk magic to bring fertility and prosperity into a home.

In Greece, they bake coins in cakes. Other cultures use beans. Whoever gets the slice with the hidden treasure in it will be especially blessed in the new year—just warn your guests! You don’t want anyone choking!

Speaking of food, remember that law of attraction. Spark off your New Year with a special feast of foods that represent all those things you want in your life. As you sprinkle in your spices and stir your foods, pour all your magical intentions into them—then enjoy! Preferably with a friend/family member!

Here’s some more ideas for New Year Magic:

New Year’s Eve Prosperity Spell: Wiccan Magic for Abundance in the New Year

Simple Wiccan New Year Blessing Rite Without Tools or Supplies

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Mailbag: Ask Sage (4)

1st Wednesday: Let’s open the ol’ mailbag!

Hi; I’m sorry to hear about your brother. You’re in a very tough position. I know how difficult alcoholism can be on an entire family.

When I was little I grew up near a small amusement park and we used to go frequently.
They had a game for .25 cents I loved to play. You had to shoot a water gun at a clown’s head. If you could get the water to go into the clown’s mouth, it would blow up a balloon behind him. The goal was to make the balloon pop (first one to pop it would win a prize).

I played a lot, and I started learning tips and tricks to improve my game. I learned just where to hold the gun and aimed. I learned that the balloons that were freshly changed for a new game popped more easily than the older balloons that had been filled up and emptied repeatedly (they got stretched out).

Magic is a little like that. You have to learn to focus your intent to send energy toward your goal, kind of the way I had to shoot that stream of water directly into the clown’s mouth if I wanted anything to happen. You have to practice and learn your little tricks to improve.

But of course, it’s more complicated than a carnival game. The problem with casting a spell on your brother is that he’s not like that mechanical clown. He’s got a mind of his own. He can block your stream of energy, he can move away from it or spit it out. If he’s putting his energy into his addiction then the energy you send towards healing him can’t really compete.

It would be lovely if we could do away with everyone’s problems with the right words or the right candle and oils. Unfortunately,it just doesn’t work like that in real life; we’re Witches, we’ve learned to work with nature to try to affect change more efficiently. We’re not Gods– we can’t just bend all the world to our wills whenever we feel like it.

Your brother has free will; and until he decides he wants to truly change his situation, there’s little that can help him– therapy, family support, even magic can only do so much for a person until they’re ready to accept help. Heck, even with the desire change can be a difficult thing, but until he has a true motivation to change there is little anyone will be able to do for him

There are things you can do for your brother. Pray for him and/or send him positive energy in your meditations. Cleanse the house (use incense, or blessed water, etc.) and infuse it with peaceful, positive, happy energies (try charging and placing rose quartz crystals around the home, or draw symbols that represent love and tranquility around the house). Hopefully your brother will find the strength to fight his addiction and overcome it. These kinds of workings might also help your parents find some peace and clarity during this difficult time.

You can also do non-magical things that will help of course (the magic and mundane go hand in hand). Tell your brother in a non-judgemental way that you’re worried about him, give your parents love and support as they struggle with this. Don’t give up hope.

I really hope things work out for your family, particularly your brother, and for you. 

Wow, what an interesting find! For those reading this that may not be familiar with Witch bottles, you can learn about them here. Witch bottles were most often used to curse, or to protect. Sounds to me like you have one meant for protection, judging by the ‘good vibes’ you get from it.

I wouldn’t open it if I were you (there is a very good chance that liquid is, in part, urine). If you did want to dismantle it, it would not harm you or the bottle’s original maker. It would just no longer work. If you ever do choose to rid yourself of it by dismantling it, I wouldn’t do it in the home– I’d do it by the river and cast the ingredients in, then cleanse yourself to make sure nothing clings. If you cleansed the bottle well (both physically and spiritually), it shouldn’t be a problem if you kept that, either, but definitely return the contents to the Earth in some way (running water is ideal for its cleansing properties).

Since the old home had been abandoned, and the jar seems to be still working, I don’t see why you should not use it to protect your own place if you wish. Traditionally a Witch bottle would be buried on the property, hidden in a fireplace or tucked under a floorboard, so you might want to find a place for it in accordance with that tradition. I would not leave it sitting out in the open; if someone accidentally knocked it over and broke it, that could not only be a nasty mess, but it could release some seriously bad energy into the house. If that did happen, again– cleansing (both physical and spiritual) would be in order.

Hi there! Generally the Pagan community uses ‘Pagans’ as the most generic term. You’re right though, not everyone is a Witch, or even a Wiccan, but I believe what you’re seeking here is Pagan-ish or at least open-minded eclectic spiritual paths.

To find local shops, groups, events, etc. in your neck of the woods, try Witchvox.com. Use the dropdown menu on the left under ‘your town’ to navigate to the listings.

As far as adultery… well, that’s a much tougher question. How it’s viewed depends largely on who is doing the viewing. Pagans in general are a diverse group; the label encompasses many religions and spiritual paths and philosophies. Opinions will vary very greatly.

Even within a particular religion like Wicca, opinions are going to vary. We’re not a religion that has detailed rules or commandments written out for us telling us this is wrong and that is right. We realize that life is more complex, and often the truth lies somewhere in the middle– if there is a single, objective truth at all (some things are just a matter of opinion).

However, Wicca is an ethical religion. It is fair to say that breaking vows, lying, sneaking, hurting your loved ones, etc. is not usually something one might consider ethical. I don’t know your fella’s life or circumstances or relationships, so I can’t judge him. We’re humans and things do get complicated. Only the people involved here can examine their consciences and think about their choices in this situation, and the repercussions they may have. We have to learn to be honest with ourselves about that, too, when we try to justify our actions we have to make sure we’re not just making excuses for ourselves out of selfish reasons.

My personal opinion is that if a marriage is not working, we should probably sort things out with the spouse and, if necessary, end it. That to me seems like a much better and more ethical solution than being selfish, deceptive, and throwing more problems into the mix. Personally it’s not something I’d want to be involved in on any level; but we all have to make the choices we can live with, and live with the choices we make. So I wish you all luck with that situation.

Hello! I think have just what you’re looking for:

Wicca for Beginners: Free Online Wicca Lessons

Spells, Exercises, and Lessons for Beginner Witches

I’ve worked pretty hard on those articles to help instruct beginners.

And, of course (couldn’t resist):

My book says, ‘Click Me!’

Have a wonderful week everyone!

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