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Friday, February 29, 2008

Ars Arcana: Magic In The Roman World

Magic. The enunciation of this term can stir contrasting reactions in the minds of men: suspicion, fear, doubt, mockery... It is a controversial term, mostly because its definition leads to subjective interpretation and its connotation has varied across the centuries.

An interesting definition of magic was offered by French historian Jean Bottèro: “it’s a system of social facts, based upon the belief of immediate efficacy of a certain number of attitudes, procedures and elements, that was usually employed to create beneficial effects, yet whose relationship with its causes were, from our point of view, perfectly irrational.”

Yet ‘magic’ stems from the darkest recesses of the human psyche and is an undying element of our everyday lives; we feel the vibrations of the world surrounding us and the invisible threads that link the elements. The notion is that these elements can be mastered, which will lead to greater knowledge and, ultimately, to truth – this obsession has haunted mankind since ancient times. Full Story

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Return To Paganism

I used to be a pagan. Not a neo-pagan with phony stilted semi-Tolkienesque speech (“Bright blessings! Merry meet!” “An it harme noone do as thou wilt”). Nor was I an adherent of some recently minted group of Gaia-worshippers playing dress-up in their Society for Creative Anachronism costumes and pretending they are living by Ye Olde Religion like somebody from The Da Vinci Code’s central casting department.

No. I was a real pagan, which is to say, I was like jillions of other kids raised in American suburbia in the 1960s and ’70s, so remote from God that I didn’t even know it was God I was seeking.

And since the de-Christianization of our culture is not coinciding with a massive uptick in the number of Jewish and Muslim converts, the conclusion I reach is that more and more Americans (particularly the young ones) are becoming (or never ceasing since birth to be) pagans.

If that is so, it is probably a good idea to ask how we might proclaim the gospel to a Pagan. In my next column, we will. Full Story

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Feud Over Religious Symbols In Public Arena Rages

The way Jacquie Sullivan sees it, the motto "In God We Trust" is more about patriotism than religion.

So when the Bakersfield, Calif., councilwoman heard on a Christian radio station in 2001 that protesters on the East Coast were trying to remove the phrase from public buildings, she considered it her civic duty to reverse the trend.

"I just shook my head in amazement when I heard," she said. "I thought, if they're working to take it down, I'll start working to put it up."

Sullivan, 68, launched a nonprofit group, In God We Trust - America, and began e-mailing informational packets to city clerks, with the help of a dozen volunteers and a tiny budget.

After years of controversy and support, the motto is now featured prominently in government buildings of nearly 30 California cities. Full Story

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

'Earth Worship' On The Rise Among Evangelical Youth

Janice Crouse, a senior fellow with Concerned Women for America, says it's disturbing that many young people in evangelical churches are experimenting with the Wiccan religion. Church leaders and Christian parents, she warns, must be ready to counter that growing interest among their youth.

Crouse cites an article in Religion Journal which said youth pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention were worried about large numbers of evangelicals taking part in Wicca, a religion that involves nature worship, stresses moral autonomy, and includes remedies and spells -- beliefs that Crouse points out are distinctly different from orthodox Christianity, not to mention incompatible with the Bible. Full Story

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Damaged Tomb May Be Witchcraft Related

On Thursday just after noon, it was noticed that a tomb that was damaged.

A witness said that you could see the body of the deceased that was buried years ago. The witness advised that the damaged tomb was located inside the Mayor Adam's Cemetery at 300 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

As the officer looked around the area of the gravesite, he saw items that appeared to be of witchcraft. Near the tombstone, he saw two one-dollar, two loose Newport cigarettes, spare change, burned candles, a black cross and a large unknown item wrapped in a black blanket. The blanket appeared to have been burned. Full Story

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bath Relaxation Spell

Color of the day: Ivory
Incense of the day: Maple

To your bath add your desired bath salts, some dried peppermint leaves, and chamomile flowers tied in a bundle of cheesecloth, and some lavender essential oil. Light candles in the room, and extinguish all other light. Play music if you like. Try to remain undisturbed and visualize the water drawing the tension from your body. Feel your muscles relax, and close your eyes and say:

Water wash away my worries,
Take them down the drain.
Leave me rested and in peace,
With no worries and no pain.

By: Ember

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Vandalism Occurs After Appearance Of 'Demons'

Two “demons” made an appearance at a Tullytown church a few weeks ago, according to the pastor.

The two walked into St. Michael the Archangel Church on Levittown Parkway in Tullytown about 5 1/2 weeks ago and introduced themselves as “demons,” the Rev. Michael C. DiIorio said Tuesday. Full Story

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Wiccan Mega Millions Winner Keeps His Word

After Dundalk's Bunky Bartlett hit the Mega Millions jackpot in 2007, he said he planned to help a new age gift shop expand. He also said he would continue teaching people about his Wiccan beliefs. Bartlett has been true to his word.

Mystickal Voyage now has more space for Bartlett to teach classes about his Wicca beliefs, which was already doing when he won Mega Millions.

"I've tried to stay the same person I was back then. I think I'm accomplishing that," he said. "I'm just able to do more things now than I could before." Full Story

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rediscover Your Pagan Nature

Getting back in touch with our natural surroundings is something that has many benefits, according to the teaching of a new "pagan" movement.

One of the most successful children’s books of Australia’s bicentennial year was Donna Rawlins and Nadia Wheatley’s My Place (Collins Dove), which traces the history of a Sydney district from 1988 to just before British settlement.

The ancestors of many non-Aboriginal Australians once had similarly powerful connections to the earth

Now, however, as Ly de Angeles, author and Witch, of Byron Bay, observes: “White Australians, particularly those of British descent, don’t think of ourselves as being ‘indigenous’ to anywhere.

To de Angeles, and many practitioners of Wicca, Druidry and related Pagan paths, one of life’s central challenges is to restore this connection. Full Story

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cloudy Skies Could Spoil Last Chance Until 2010 For Region's View Of Lunar Eclipse

Californians will get their last chance for nearly three years to see a total lunar eclipse Wednesday night, but much of it could be obscured by clouds, weather experts say.

Unlike many lunar eclipses that require Angelenos to get up at 3 a.m. and stumble down the stairs to watch the moon transform into a reddish-orange orb, this will be a prime-time lunar spectacle - kicking off around 7 p.m. and lasting about an hour.

The next total lunar eclipse will not come around until December 2010, according to NASA.

Astronomers aren't the only ones paying attention to strange lunar happenings. The eclipse also has a special meaning for astrologers, Wiccan covens and other star mystics.

Wiccan groups, which practice a pre-Christian religion that emphasizes ritual observance of seasonal and life cycles, have also planned festivals for the night of the eclipse. Full Story

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Child Let Off School For Pagan Festival

A primary school allowed a mother to take her child out of lessons to attend a summer festival because the family say they are pagans.

Newington Green Primary, in the north London borough of Islington, gave permission for the three-day absence last June after the mother of the six-year-old argued that the child should be allowed to attend the celebrations because of her faith.

"When she asked originally, the school turned her down," a source said. "Then she said she was a pagan and it was a religious festival, and they said OK, because they give other children time off for religious holidays." Full Story

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Pagans Lash Out At Church Over Exorcism Blame

The Catholic Church has been blasted by Pagans who reject that the increase in exorcisms is due to people "dabbling" in paganism.

The Courier Mail reports that one priest, who asked not be named, said he was carrying out at least one exorcism a fortnight.

"There has been a recruitment of pagan practices, and it's sheer poison," the priest says.

However, the priest's claim has provoked an angry reponse from the Pagan Awareness Network (PAN), an association representing wiccans, pagans, and other followers of nature-based faiths.

"A pagan ritual is no more dangerous than going to a church, a temple, or a mosque," PAN president David Garland said. Full Story

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Gypsy Healing Spell

Color of the day: Black
Incense of the day: Geranium

February 26 is Pentagram Night. The Babylonians, the Egyptians, and the ancient Greeks worshipped the pentacle as the womb of the Mother goddess. The Greek meaning for pentacle was “life” or “health,” a symbol sacred to Hygeia, goddess of healing. The gypsies use the figure of the pentacle in this healing spell called “measuring the pentacle.” With your patient lying spread-eagled on his back, use a long piece of string to trace a length from his chin to his right foot. Cut the string. By cutting the string you’re severing the illness from his body. Run the string from his right foot to his left hand and cut. From his left hand to his right hand, measure the string and cut. Run the string from his right hand to his left foot and cut. Run the final length of string from his left foot back to his chin and cut. Burn the string in your cauldron.

By: Lily Gardner

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Media To Blame For False View Of Witchcraft

An old woman standing over a smouldering cauldron is what most of us associate with the concept of witchcraft today. Thanks to mainstream media, including films, television and books, ancient practices of witchcraft have been turned into a cultural mockery.

Traditional forms of witchcraft, currently present in mostly African and Caribbean countries, have been commercialized and stereotyped by popular characters like Maleficent in Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty, the three witches of Hocus Pocus and others.

However, to some extent, novels like the Harry Potter series and television shows like Sabrina the Teenage Witch have worked to counter the traditional stereotypes, by portraying witches as normal human beings with abnormal powers.

Still, it seems that traditional stereotypes prevail. Full Story

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Government Abandoned Us, Say Accused Witches

Three years after being promised a home by the KwaZulu-Natal government, a former Tugela Ferry couple who fled their home amid accusations of witchcraft are still waiting for the help to materialise.

Mabona Ngcobo, 73, and his wife, Gwilile, 61, have since had to endure a life of hardship and are in hiding.

The Ngcobos were accused of practising witchcraft after five children were found dead in an abandoned vehicle at their home in February 2005.

The couple were arrested, but released as there was no evidence linking them to the children's deaths. Full Story

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Santeria: A Growing Problem For The Catholic Church

There is little question that Santería is growing in influence in the United States and in much of Caribbean Latin America. In Cuba and Venezuela, it has become a major problem for the Catholic Church.

If the belief were to stand alone, it would likely simply be considered another cult oriented religious practice, much like an ugly form of shamanism. The problem is that most of its adherents consider themselves to be Roman Catholics and insist on incorporating their heretical practices into Catholic liturgy.

Santería undermines orthodoxy and attacks the very heart of Christian belief by insinuating a pantheon of sub-gods into Catholicism. In Santería, traditional figures in the Church, for example, the Virgin Mary, become the public personas of African deities. Traveling with this conversion of Christianity is a whole liturgical system that incorporates such acts as invoking spirits, assigning magical powers to objects or idols, and opening spiritual portals. On the much darker side, it encourages animal sacrifice and grave robbing. Human skulls and various skeletal bones are prized as ways of making contracts with the dead. Full Story

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Great Seal Secrets Revealed!

Conspiracy theorists take note: The myths surrounding one of America's oldest and most enduring national symbols are about to be debunked ... if you believe the government, that is.

The keepers of the Great Seal of the United States, the familiar emblem on the back of the $1 bill, want you to know what it is not.

It is not a sign that Freemasons run the country, it has nothing to do with the occult, and it does not contain clues to a fabulous hidden treasure. Full Story

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Message In Ink

Rachelle Whitley's e-mail address - risenphnx@aol.com - hints that she's had a second chance at life.

In a way she has. But the motorcycle accident almost three years ago that left her with chronic pain is enough, Whitley said.

"This isn't a whim," Whitley, 40, said Wednesday as Dave Stem at Monkey Wrench Tattoo prepared to adorn the area above her left breast with a message for emergency personnel: Do Not Resuscitate.

The black lettering brackets a medical-alert symbol in red.

"I'm Wiccan. Things happen for a reason," Whitley said. "If it's my time to go, I don't want to be brought back." Full Story

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Monday, February 11, 2008

‘Pagans’ Blamed For Horse Attacks

A Mearns horse breeder whose animals have suffered repeated attacks which she fears may be linked to witchcraft is offering a £500 reward in a bid to trace the culprits.

Around 25 animals have been attacked at East Balhagarty, near Laurencekirk.

The attacks follow a series of similar incidents, investigated by Grampian Police, which have been linked to occult rituals.

Horse hair, specifically from the tail, is known to be linked to pagan rituals practised between October and Easter. Full Story

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Lifting Your Spirits

Color of the day: Yellow
Incense of the day: Frankincense

In the dreary days of late winter, this spell will give your spirit a lift. Cut several stems from a forsythia shrub. Select stems that have a large number of swollen leaf buds. Remove the buds and crush them to form a paste. Sprinkle the substance upon a small brass tray and let it dry in a sunny window. Once dry, light eight candles in colors representing the Sun—yellow, orange, or gold. Standing before the burning candles, crumble the dried buds into a small box or dish. Add a sprinkle of gold glitter and say: “The spirit never dies. The spirit lives.” This magical powder which you have prepared can be added to any growth or prosperity spell. Leave the powder on your altar during the winter to remind you that during the dark season, the life-force of Mother Earth is not dead—only resting.

By: James Kambos

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Trauma Helps Woman Find New Trade

The accident left her horribly mangled.

Her back was broken in six places, her pelvis was shattered and she had severe amnesia, among other injuries.

But Kimberli White Otter considers her car crash a gift. Without it, she would not be doing what she does today.

Otter, along with Eric Dreaming Trout, owns the Otter and Trout Trading Co., a quaint little boutique located at 625 West University Ave. that sells herbal remedies and spiritual trinkets. Full Story

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Friday, February 08, 2008

First Wiccan Chaplain in History To Meet With U.S. Commission On Civil Rights (Press Release)

A Wiccan Chaplain and Statewide California Department of Corrections, Patrick McCollum will speak at a briefing on prisoners' religious rights at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in Washington, DC on Friday, February 8, 2007. This marks the first time that a Wiccan expert has spoken on religious freedom issues at a Commission briefing.

"It is an honor to be invited to participate in the dialogue and to share a Wiccan's point of view," said McCollum. "Those in minority faiths are seldom given the opportunity to be heard, even when the issue concerns their rights. I am hopeful this invitation is indicative of what we can expect going forward and that there truly is a desire on the part of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to ensure that inmates receive equal treatment, and a willingness to better serve minority religions." Full Story

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Religious Minorities Face Real ID Crackdown

No television, no wedding or family photographs, and definitely no image of herself on her driver's license: That was the devout Christian life that Nebraska resident Frances Quaring was trying to lead.

Which is why, after the state of Nebraska rejected her request for a license-without-a-photograph in the mid-1980s, Quaring sued the state in a landmark case that ended up at the U.S. Supreme Court. She won, with the justices agreeing that preserving her freedom of religion outweighed the state's interest in requiring an ID photograph.

More than two decades after the Quaring case, approximately a dozen states now offer religious exceptions when issuing driver's licenses. But because of a federal law called the Real ID Act that takes effect on May 11, residents of those states who have pictureless licenses could expect problems flying on commercial airliners and entering federal buildings, including some Social Security and Veterans Affairs offices.

The new rules could affect thousands of Americans in states including Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Minnesota, Kansas, Arkansas, and Indiana. Religious groups including some Amish, Old Order Mennonites, Muslims, members of Native American faiths, and fundamentalist Christians object to identification cards bearing their photographs--or, in some cases, even showing their unshrouded faces in public. Full Story

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Pope’s Rewrite Of Latin Prayer Draws Criticism From 2 Sides

Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday issued a replacement for a contentious Good Friday prayer in Latin, removing language that many Jewish groups found offensive but still calling for the Jews’ conversion.

However, representatives of Jewish groups as well as traditionalist Catholics quickly condemned the new prayer, though for different reasons. Jewish groups said it was still offensive, and traditionalists said they preferred the version that was replaced.

The full prayer also contains calls for the conversion of other groups, including Protestants, the Orthodox and pagans. Full Story

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Interview With Pagan Teacher And Author Of "Slow Time," Waverly Fitzgerald

Lately it seems that many of us are living as if we are over-caffeinated hamsters on well-greased exercise wheels.

We run and run as fast as we can and still don't manage to arrive at our destinations. At the end of the day there are still a slew of chores undone on the to-do list. We struggle to find time to savor the company of our loved ones, enjoy life and relax. Our physical, emotional and spiritual needs often are abandoned due to the demands of modern life.

Spiritual teacher and author Waverly Fitzgerald believes we'd all benefit by changing our ideas and relationships with time. In her new book, "Slow Time," Fitzgerald, who has written for Beliefnet and Sage Woman magazine, provides exercises and ideas intended to inspire people to align themselves with nature's natural rhythms — night and day, the monthly lunar cycle and the yearly solar round — rather than living their lives to the frenzied beat of industrial time. Full Story

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Monday, February 04, 2008

King Frost Day

Color of the day: Lavender
Incense of the day: Narcissus

The Celtic calendar denotes today as King Frost Day, who reigned with the Queen of the Snowflakes. Decorate your home and work spaces with representations of winter, icicles, and snowflakes. If you’re in a cold climate, go ice skating, attend a hockey game, build a snowman, or go cross-country skiing—or sit inside by the fire with a cup of cocoa and watch the snow fall outside. If you’re in a warm climate, eat ice cream or build an ice sculpture and watch it melt. Take joy in the cold, clean attributes of King Frost.

By: Cerridwen Iris Shea

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Update: Protest Brews Over Pageant

There was definitely some "double, double, toil and trouble" yesterday afternoon outside the Radisson Plaza Hotel Admiral on Queen's Quay W., where the Miss Toronto Tourism pageant was being held.

Local witches picketed for four hours in support of Stephanie Conover, the 23-year-old Miss Toronto Tourism Pageant judge ousted for her Wiccan beliefs.

In a letter, the committee said her beliefs were "not acceptable by God, Jews, Muslims or Christians."

But Miss Toronto Tourism board member Ainslie Baillie denied Conover's rejection was tied to Wiccan beliefs.

"This pagan conference was calling up our sponsors and threatening them," she said. "I was just told that she wasn't qualified. A lot of it has to do with judging experience, not religion." Full Story

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Wee Bit More: Scottish Pagan Gathering Spells Worry For Some Christians

Some Christian groups in Scotland are anxious about druids, wiccans and other traditional religionists from across the UK gathering in a small north-east community this summer, reports the Scotsman newspaper.

The Pagan Federation is intending to hold its first summer camp in Inchberry near Fochabers. The three-day event, scheduled for July 2008, will be a celebration of the ancient religion, which is based on the honouring of the natural order as an expression of the divine.

However a Moray church claims that the meeting may "encourage dangerous dabbling in witchcraft" - an idea which has been described as unfounded and superstitious by those planning to be involved, who point out that their commitment to human and natural well-being is in stark contrast to the popular image of "dark witches and ghouls".

Earlier this month, the Pagan Federation described as "a huge stride in interfaith relations" the election of priestess Angie Buchanan to a three-year term as Secretary to the Council of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, one of the world’s oldest and most prominent interfaith organizations.

She is the first Pagan to serve as an officer on the Executive Committee. In October 2007, Andras Corban-Arthen of the EarthSpirit Community in Massachusetts, USA, was elected as a member-at-large to the PWR executive committee. Full Story

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Occult Reaches Students, Staff

For some at Ohio State, the occult is a field of academic interest, but for some students it is a way of life.

Arthur Holmes, an undecided freshman, is a satanist and chaos magician. His experience with the occult has been positive, but he said that the public generally misunderstands satanism.

"We don't worship Satan as a deity. We see him as a representation of the carnal side of man and as a symbol of indulgence," he said.

A number of OSU students participate in magic as followers of religions such as satanism and wicca. Some OSU professors are also interested in magic, and specialize in fields that concentrate on it as a historical and cultural subject. Full Story

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