Mailbag: Ask Sage (8)

Hello all! A few things have been going on here with me:

  • I attended the Pagan Unity Festival in Tennessee– quite a drive from southern Florida, but worth it! Read my review here!
  • I’m working on finishing up my next book, 8 Suns to Becoming Wiccan
  • I’m STILL sifting through my huge, stuffed inbox
  • I’m working on those YouTube videos — See the Latest: What Your Mind Should Be Doing During a Spell

With that, I’m going to get to a few new questions. If you’re thinking of writing in, I welcome you to do so! Just give me time to get through– I never expected so many people needed help!  I can’t tell you how truly honored I am, I am humbled by the fact that you’re interested in my input.

Also, please check for previous Mailbags to make sure a question similar to yours wasn’t already answered.

Here are the latest crop of questions I’ve gotten through! Thanks for the thoughtful and insightful questions!

Your English is, I’m sure, waaaaay better than my ability to speak your native tongue, lol. So no sweat– actually, your English is very good for a non-native speaker.

Wow, that’s a lot of questions! Good ones, though, so I would like to tackle them one-by-one for you:

Whenever you do something new with your life, you risk change: getting an education, starting a new career, new hobby, moving to a new land, getting married, having kids, etc. It’s all going to change you. Witchcraft is no different in this respect. It’ll change you; I know it’s changed me– I learned a lot from the Craft, and it’s helped me become the person I am today. I’m very happy with that.

It’s also possible to ‘lose yourself’ in any new endeavor if you let yourself get sucked into bad choices and negativity. I can’t promise you it won’t ever happen– I don’t know you, or what you intend to do. But I can say that if you’re aware of the fact that you don’t want it to happen, that’s half the battle.

I’m getting the sense that the bigger issue here is that you’ve been taught the idea that Witchcraft = bad, and you are worried that even if you approach it with innocent intentions, some evil force behind it is going to sort of suck you in and make things go wrong. In my experience, that kind of worry comes from fiction and rumor. I would say that in my religion, Witchcraft is simply a self-help measure and magic is a tool of nature. If you approach it with good, healthy intentions, you have no need to worry.

Some people approach it with darkness– they want power over others, they are petty and want revenge, they are selfish and want to take from others more easily, they don’t care who they hurt. They wallow in negativity… so that’s what they get out of it. If you’re not a dark, negative person, then you don’t have to worry about it.

2. But it will be really you. Just like if you get a new dress or lose weight or fix your hair. Magic simply aids you in achieving your goals.

3. I can’t help you with that; there are a lot of people (particularly in your neck of the woods) who have real fears and prejudices against the Craft. Some people prefer to guard their privacy. Some people stand up to others and don’t care what others think. If you really fear that you’ll be shunned or attacked or your safety will be in danger for your beliefs, you need to consider whether you really want to open that particular can of worms.

4. Then learn how to do spells right, lol.

Seriously, everything in life has consequences. You are at risk when walking across a street, when cutting up veggies with sharp knife, when standing in a slippery, wet tub… life’s a gamble. Magic is like fire; it’s energy, to be used, but with respect. It can heat your home or burn it down. That doesn’t mean it’s bad or good. It’s just a matter of respecting it for what it is and exercising caution.

Witchcraft is no different… if you aren’t careful, there can be consequences. But probably not the kind you are worried about. I’ve cast spells that had unintended results… when my husband once needed a confidence boost for a job interview, I cast a spell on him upon request to motivate him to go after what he wanted. And he got the job… but he was also an argumentative, selfish, annoying bitch for the next couple of months until that boost wore off. I wanted to smack him sometimes, lol.

There are always natural consequences for everything we do, Witchcraft included. But I think your fears are born more out of misconceptions of Witchcraft than of what it actually is.

5. Again, I think you have some misconceptions of what Witchcraft is. Witchcraft is utilizing magic, a natural resource. A neutral resource. It doesn’t just automatically attract ‘evil’ or bad things to you, unless that is what you’re looking to attract, anymore than lighting a fire in your fireplace would automatically attract the devil.

It definitely sounds like she’s been working magic,most likely with the aid or guidance of a spellcaster (a costly one, probably) that convinced her that what she was doing was somehow a good thing. I’ve heard that spiel before about a ‘bonding cord’. Personally, I don’t believe those kinds of love spells are good; being restrained against your will, with real cords or with magical ones, is still bondage and imprisonment no matter how you slice it.

Some things you might have felt if this was a spell:

  • obsessive/compulsive about her
  • overly idealized her, ignored red flags, denied warnings, looked the other way when problems arose
  • resentful of her sometimes, almost as if you were angry that you couldn’t get away even if you wanted to, like a part of you was annoyed that she had this effect on you
  • she would become very frustrated that you weren’t turning out to be what she’d hoped for, that things weren’t going her way
  • very difficult to break up, thoughts of breaking up dragged out, actual attemps were very messy, lots of baggage

If you think you were under a spell, then it is good that she’s unbinding you (something she never had a right to do without your permission). But you should take extra precaution for yourself. I’d do an uncrossing ritual if you know how or are so inclined to such a big ritual if you want to be sure to break any last remnants of magical workings she may have done on you.

If you feel that would be too much for you for now, or if you don’t feel it’s that urgent, I recommend just getting an uncrossing oil from a good, reputable source like Lucky Mojo or The Sacred Grove. An uncrossing bath wouldn’t hurt either.

At the very least, get some salt and do some purifying/cleansing baths and/or showers and do some cleansing meditations. Best of luck!

Wow, see… that’s the tough thing about dreams. It’s so hard to know if it’s a psychic attack, a message/warning from the subconscious, a scary nightmare, etc. This is something you might need to explore– meditate, pray, and visualize white light around you to protect yourself before going to sleep.

Not knowing your sister in law, or what the deal is with her, it would be impossible for me to judge. But you might want to look into sleep paralysis, because it sounds like that was involved.

Let me know if things progress.

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That’s good for now! Bright blessings to all, and to all a good night!

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10 Things A Lot of Wicca Websites and Blogs Get Wrong About Wicca

5th Wednesday: Wildcard (anything goes)

13 Moons to Becoming Wiccan

I do go into all of this, and more,  in my book; click to purchase.

You don’t have to go outside of Wicca to find a lot of misconceptions about our religion; there are plenty of misconceptions about it right within our religion. Even many practicing Wiccans have misconceptions about Wicca. Unfortunately, a lot of the popular sources are not the most accurate sources. Today I thought maybe we could weed through some of the most common mis-teachings about Wicca in popular sources.

Maybe you knew these— but for many of you, some of these are going to shake you and what you thought you knew.

  1. The Wiccan Rede is not a poem.

You know that ‘Bide the Wiccan Rede we must, in perfect love and perfect trust, yadda yadda yadda…’ that so many people love to tout as the ‘Wiccan Rede’? Yeah, well, it’s not.

The poem, originally entitled ‘The Rede of the Wicca,’ was written about the Wiccan Rede in the late 1970s. It was never a Wiccan-wide important writing until the internet came along, and self-trained Wiccans started calling it the ‘long version’ of the Wiccan Rede.

The Wiccan Rede doesn’t have a ‘long version’ in reality; the actual Wiccan Rede is only 8 words: ‘If it harm none, do what you will’.

  1. You don’t even need to follow the Rede to be Wiccan.

While we’re on the topic of the Wiccan Rede, you should probably know that it was never some central tenet or commandment in Wicca. The word ‘rede’ means ‘advice,’ and it’s something that came out of the late 1960s in defense of Wicca because so many people thought it was ‘bad’ or ‘dangerous.’

It’s not that the Wiccan Rede was bad advice; it kind of was adopted as a Golden Rule thing. But too many sources these days over-inflate its importance in Wicca. It was never meant to be a law that prohibits you from doing harm, magically or otherwise. Harm is occasionally inevitable, and oversimplified arbitrary commandments do little to really help us evaluate real life situations.

Besides, what kind of turds would we be if we needed to build our religion around a reminder that you don’t go around smacking people for fun? In a civilized society, not running around hurting others willy-nilly should be kind of a given.

  1. The Threefold Law was nothing more than a misrepresentation of fiction.

Another thing a lot of current sources promote till the cows come home is that everything you do comes back to you ‘times three.’ But guess what? That’s another thing that was never part of Wicca until the 70s… and it was basically someone misinterpreting Gerald Gardner’s fiction.

Before writing nonfiction about Witches, Wicca’s founder, Gerald Gardner, wrote fiction books about them. In one book, a Witch explained to another that when one person does good to you, you should do good back times three; and if they do something rotten to you, again, give it back times three. In this fictional book, this was just the way for these particular characters.

When Gardner published non-fiction books about Witchcraft for the first time, he added nothing remotely like this threefold law. It was unheard of for decades.

Later, in the 1970s, someone dug up the idea, but changed it. It started to be touted as some kind of universal bitch slap warning for people to not do bad things; kind of like it was the Wiccan equivalent of the Christian threat of hellfire.

Doreen Valiente, who helped Gardner develop Wicca and who is known as the mother of modern Witchcraft, said she didn’t believe it when asked about the Threefold Law in an interview. She’s not alone—many Wiccans didn’t from her generation; and even now, there are a lot of Wiccans who don’t believe it. However, you’d probably never know that by looking at the typical Wiccan website.

  1. The Wheel of the Year is not an ancient construct.

This one should be obvious, because we all know that climates vary around the globe; but ancient Pagans in tropical climates didn’t take joy in the coming of the summer, which for them was the season of death. It was not the return of the light they celebrated, but the relief from it in Wintertime. For many Pagans, fall was not harvest season; it was monsoon season.

Ancient Pagan cultures around the world did have some similar observations when it comes to harvest season, fertility season, honoring the dead, etc., but there was no universal holiday system. The Wheel of the Year is a modern construct.

When Wicca began in the 1940s, there were only four sabbats. They were called November Eve, February Eve, May Eve and August Eve. That’s right, they didn’t even have names. In time, Gardner’s coven suggested adding the equinoxes and solstices to the sabbat list, and he agreed, dubbing them ‘minor sabbats.’ Eventually all eight sabbats took on the names of old Celtic and Germanic festivals that resembled the sabbat.

The construct of the Wheel of the Year was brilliant, and in this day and age it can have a lot of meaning to Wiccans, but sorry to report: it was not something your ancient Pagan ancestors did, nor was it something your Christian ancestors stole from.

  1. Ancient Pagans were not all good, loving, kind, compassionate, progressive people who flitted in the fields merrily with fairies doing ‘white magic’.

There is a tendency to romanticize and idealize the past; but too many people view ancient Pagans as something out of a fantasy novel. If you had this idea of peaceful, enlightened societies that treated women, children, gays, transsexuals, slaves and foreigners with love and compassion, then you need to get some more reputable history books.

Ancient Pagans were humans… primitive humans. Yes, they were often perfectly fine with slavery, genocide and human sacrifice. Yes, they treated women as bad—in many cases, worse—than Abrahamic religions. They did not all openly embrace alternative lifestyles. They were superstitious. They had absolutely no problem stripping the Earth of her resources—conservation or being ‘green’ was not even a concern until (like in our time), it got out of hand and threatened to decimate them in a particular region—in which case they’d get up and go elsewhere and do the same thing. Yes, they feared magic, too, and burned Witches.

Pagan in the past weren’t bad, they were just products of their time, trying to live in and understand the world through the perspective with which they were presented. But these myths about them have a lot of modern Pagans depressed because they were not born in a time and place that resembled Avalon. Don’t idealize the past, wishing you were born in a different time; embrace now and use it for a more promising future.

  1. ww1Wicca isn’t about spells, tarot cards, crystals, herbalism, transforming into animals or mythological creatures, I-Ching, astral projection, contacting the dead, working with angels or demons, astrology, crystal gazing, psychic powers, etc. etc.

Anyone of any religion can do those things, Wiccan or not. Wicca is a religion; and like other religions it’s about our relationship with our Gods and how we live our lives.

These things can certainly be part of a Wiccan’s spirituality; but if any source claims to teach you Wicca and talks more about psychic abilities and magic than about things like ethics and tenets, it’s a good chance you have a crappy source. Learning any of these things is fine; but it’s not learning Wicca.

  1. Wicca isn’t a spiritual accessory that you try on with other religions.

Well, of course, you can treat it as such—there’s no Wiccan police who will pull up one day and tell you that you’re doing it wrong. But a lot of people fail to realize that Wicca is not a tack-on practice to another religion because you like the idea of it. Usually, people will tack it on because they say they follow one religion, but they like doing magic, loving nature and harming none.

That’s all fine and good—but of course, doing magic, loving nature and harming none does not make you Wiccan. Again, anyone of any religion can do these things, they are not specific to Wicca. That would be like me calling myself a Wiccan Jew because I like potato latkes and applesauce, and agree with the commandment not to murder.

Wicca is a religion in and of itself, and can stand all on its own two feet. Wicca teaches us to tolerate and respect the religions of others; that doesn’t mean our religion actually makes sense being paired with other religions. When there are conflicting world views, usually what the person is practicing in reality is not two different religions seamlessly blended; they’re just cherry-picking what they like haphazardly from two different religions, while practicing neither.

  1. Wiccan do use upside-down pentagrams.

Oh so many people will tell you ‘Wiccans only use the pentagram point-up; that’s the good way! Only Satanists use it point-down! That’s the bad way!’

Uh… they might want to check out traditional second degree initiations. Wiccans use the pentagram both ways: point up represents spirit ascending matter; point-down represents spirit descending into matter.

Since we don’t believe in Satan, the pentagram doesn’t represent him no matter which way it happens to be pointing. There is no ‘evil’ position of the pentagram.

  1. Familiars: not a Wiccan thing.

    My dog Ben, ready for ritual.

    My dog Ben, ready for ritual.

Familiars were not even a Witch thing. Familiars were nothing but Christian rumors from the middle ages that said Witches would turn themselves or their demon henchmen into animals, and then the animal forms would go out and spy or make mischief. Later on, in the mid-twentieth century, fiction started painting familiars of good Witches as their animal companions.

Somehow, modern Witches got the idea that this was a real historic Witch concept and adopted it. That’s all fine and good; if someone wants to call their cat a familiar, there’s nothing wrong with that. But when you see Wiccan websites or books telling you how to find your Wiccan familiar, you should realize that familiars actually have nothing to do with Wicca.

  1. You don’t need to find your Element.

In Wicca, the Elements (big E) are Earth, Air, Fire and Water; they are spiritual symbols that represent everything. They are not merely dirt, wind, flames and H20, though those things would certainly fall into their respective Element’s categories.

Also in Wicca, finding balance in all things is a key tenet. This includes finding balance within the Elements.

You don’t have an Element; you are all four Elements. ‘

The myth of ‘finding your Element’ appears to have blown up on modern websites and in YouTube videos, and it was just never accurate in relation to Wicca. If you really have an incredibly strong affinity to only one element, and really only feel a profound connection to that one, it doesn’t mean that it’s your element; it means you’re terribly imbalanced, and you need to leave your comfort zone and find balance within the other three Elements.

So, did I blow your mind? Did anything on this list shock you? Confuse you? Piss you off entirely? Please let me know in the comments. Feel free to debate and discuss.

But if you feel you’ve learned something, Please Spread It Around!

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Wicca, Then & Now

Comparing What It Was Like 20 Years Ago for me to Today

Wednesday’s Word Current Events Commentary (third Wednesday)

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It’s Wicca, not Wicker! Wicca I say!

Then: When someone heard I was studying Wicca, they thought it

meant I was into basket weaving or rattan furniture building.

Now: When someone hears I am studying Wicca, most of the time they’ll be aware I mean a Pagan religion. And to boot, many will assume I’m either a teenage girl going through a rebellion phase, or a bored divorcee with too many cats (I’m middle aged, married and have a ONE pet– a dog. Hmpfh!).

 

Then: If I found three books on Wicca on a mainstream bookstore bookshelf at the same time, I was delighted and in awe of the huge selection. Bonus points if one of them wasn’t Silver RavenWolf’s To Ride a Silver Broomstick.

Now: Three words: Amazon dot com.

These days I’m just in awe if I can actually find an actual brick-and-mortar bookstore. If I can, they’re usually pretty well stocked in the New Age/Occult/’Other’ religion section.

 

Then: I went for about a year where if I had questions that couldn’t be answered by Scott Cunningham’s Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner or Raymond Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft, I was SOOL.

Now: If I have a question, I just have to hop on the internet, and dozens of Wiccans will come flying on their broomsticks out of cyber space. And not one will have the same answer.

 

Then: Finding another Wiccan then was like finding a pay phone now— I need to travel far and wide and have a sharp eye.

Now: Finding a Wiccan now is like finding a payphone then— I can spot them about every three blocks, and if I need a dozen or more I know where they’re grouped together.

 

Then: Joining a Wicca group was just not easy. Finding an operating coven or grove operating within reasonable distance of home required incredibly powerful magic in itself.

Now: And again… internet. Wow, the internet really played a big role in changing Wicca.

 

Then: Most Wiccans I ever met, once I started finding them, lived ‘in the broom closet’. People were scared to death of losing their jobs, kids, being disowned by family or being harassed.

Now: Many (not all still, but many) Wiccans live as completely open as those of other faiths. We show off our ‘Gimmie that Old-Time Religion’ bumper stickers and inform our bosses we need Halloween off for religious observances without much thought.

 

Then: Many Wiccans were afraid to share their religions with their children. If the kid slipped somewhere and mentioned a ‘Goddess’ or – Heaven forbid! – a ‘Horned God’, all hell could have broken loose.

Now: You go to big gatherings and you see so many different ages, including families with little ones. Some families haul multiple generations on over, and it’s a beautiful sight.

 

Then: My first athame was a gothic letter opener. I couldn’t find a shop. I was glad the couple of books emphasized making your own tools because frankly I didn’t know where else I could get them.

Now: I’ve come across altar supplies at Salvation Army thrift shops.

 

Then: Just about every Wiccan believed that Wicca was an ancient religion that went underground for years to escape Christian persecution, and that 9 to 13 million of us were burned during ‘the Burning Times.’ We were an angry bunch, screamed ‘NEVER AGAIN!’ a lot and accused Christians of stealing our holidays.

Now: most Wiccans realize our religion is a modern creation, and that zero Wiccans were burned during any Witch persecution, and that the evolution of holidays is a bit more complex that Christians ‘stealing’ them.

 

Then: A lot of Christians who barely knew anything about our religion thought we worshipped Satan.

Now: A lot of Christians who barely knew anything about our religion think we worship Satan.

Okay, so some things never change. Oh well!

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