Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Facts About Paganism

10 Facts About Paganism and Wicca

By Patti Wigington


"There's a lot of information out there on Paganism, including but not limited to Wicca, in books, on the Internet, and through local groups.  But how much of it is accurate?  How do you learn to separate the wheat from the chaff?  The fact is, there are several basic things you should understand about Wicca and other forms of Paganism before you make the decision to join a new spiritual path.  Let's eliminate some of the misconceptions and talk about actual facts... it will make your spiritual journey all the more valuable if you understand these issues from the beginning."


1. Most Pagan Traditions Have Rules

7527_1620958806_n.jpgSure, a lot of people think that just because there's no Grand High Pagan Council that there must be all kinds of magical carnage going on.  Truth is, there are some fairly standard guidelines followed by a number of different Pagan traditions.  While they vary from one group to the next, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the concepts.  Learn more about the rules of magic before you continue your studies.


2. Not All Witches are Pagans are Wiccans

There are dozens of Pagan traditions and as many different versions of Wicca.  Not all are the same, and just because someone is a Witch or Pagan doesn't necessarily mean they practice Wicca.  Learn about the differences in paths found among the umbrella term 'Paganism.'


3. There's No Pagan Dress Code

Contrary to what many popular movies might have you believe, you don't have to be a teenage goth princess to be Pagan or Wiccan.  In fact, you don't "have to be" anything at all.  Pagans come from all walks of life - they are parents and teens, lawyers, nurses, firefighters, waitresses, teachers and writers.  They come from all different walks of life, all socioeconomic groups, and all sorts of racial backgrounds.  There's no Pagan Dress Code that says you have to toss away your polo shirt or khakis in favor of capes and an all-black wardrobe.  On the other hand, if you prefer the goth look, go for it... just remember that goth and Pagan are not synonymous.


4. Religious Freedom Applies to Pagans Too

74938_702958716.jpgBelieve it or not, as a Pagan you have the same rights as people of any other religion.  Despite the fact that some members of other faiths might disapprove of the existence of Wicca and Paganism, the fact is that if you live in the United States, you're entitled to protection just like anyone else.  It's against the law for anyone to discriminate against you because you practice an earth-based faith.  Learn about your rights as a Pagan or Wiccan parent, as an employee, and even as a member of the United States military.


5. It's Okay to Be Out of the Broom Closet... or Not

Countless numbers of Pagans have made the choice to "come out of the broom closet"... in other words, they've stopped hiding their spiritual path from others.  For many people, this is a huge decision. You may feel that it's not in your best interest to make your religious beliefs known, and that's okay too.  If you feel you could be in danger if you reveal that you are Pagan, or that it might put a strain on family relations, going public might be something you should postpone.  Get all the pros and cons on coming out of the broom closet.


6. Pagans Are Not Satanists

Ask any Pagan about the cornerstone of their faith, and they'll probably tell you it's a reverence for their ancestors, a belief in the sacredness of nature, a willingness to embrace the Divine within ourselves, or an acceptance of polarity between the male and female.  It may be a combination of those principles.  It will not have anything to do with the Satan, Old Scratch, Beelzebub, or any of the other names attributed to the Christian devil.  Pagans and Wiccans aren't devil worshipers, Satanists or Diabolists.  Learn more about how Pagans and Wiccans feel about such an entity.


7. Join a Coven or Practice Solitary?

Many Wiccans and Pagans choose to join a coven or study group because it allows them the chance to learn from like-minded people.  It's an opportunity to share ideas and get new perspectives on any number of things.  However, for some folks it's just more practical or desirable to remain as a solitary practitioner. 


8. Parents and Teens

Nothing will set a teenager at odds with a parent quite like coming into the house wearing a giant pentacle, toting a candle, and yelling, "I'm a Witch now, leave me alone!"  Fortunately, it doesn't have to be that way.  Parents, you may have some concerns about Wicca and other forms of Paganism... and teens, you probably aren't sure how to talk to mom and dad about your new-found interest.  Rest easy, though.  With a little bit of good communication, both parents and teenagers should be able to find a happy medium.


9. You Don't Need a Lot of Fancy Tools

Many people think they need to stock up on hundreds of dollars worth of incense, herbs, wands and candles before they can even begin to practice Wicca or Paganism.  That's simply not the case.  While a few basic magical tools are nice to have, the key element of most traditions are the beliefs, not the tangible, physical items.  If you'd like to gather a very basic 'starter kit' of tools, there are several which are common to nearly every tradition: bell, candle, broom, feathers, herbs...  Go for a walk and see what finds you.


10. You Can Write Your Own Spells and Rituals

Despite a commonly held (and generally Internet-based) belief to the contrary, anyone can write and cast a spell.  The trick is to recognize what the key elements are to successful spell crafting - intent or goal, components, and putting it into practice are all key.  Don't let anyone tell you that beginners can't write a spell.  Just like any other skill set, it will take some practice, but with a little work you can become a perfectly effective spell worker.




Saturday, October 25, 2014



Appeal: Communication, Phone and Internet Lines, Courage, Messengers, Honor


Hermod_p182.jpgHermod is son of Odin, he is the swift and sure messenger of the Gods, similar to the Greek God Hermes.  He carries a magical staff called Gambantein.  Hermod is famous for his courage and determination, traits which allow him to act boldly and without the slightest bit of hesitation in carrying out his duties, with resolute firmness even in the face of grave danger, harm or imminent death.

Hermod appears distinctly in section 49 of the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning.  There, it is described that the Gods were speechless and devastated at the death of Baldr, unable to react due to their grief.  After the Gods gathered their wits from the immense shock and grief of Baldr's death, Frigg asked the Aesir who amongst them wished 'to gain all of her love and favor' by riding the road to Hel.  Whoever agreed was to offer Hela a ransom in exchange for Baldr's return to Asgard.  Hermodr agrees to this and set off with Sleipnir to Hel.

When Hermod came upon the gates of Hel, he jumped right over them and entered the great hall of the dead.  There he saw Balder and he begged Goddess Hela to release him because Balder was loved by all so no-one could miss him.  Hela was skeptical and agreed to release Balder on the condition that everything, dead or alive, should weep for Balder.  If only one thing should not cry, then she would keep Balder in the realm of the dead.  Hermod returned to the land of the living and told the Gods what Hela's terms were.  But not everyone wept and therefore Balder had to remain in the underworld until the end of the world.

Hermod made many journeys to the various worlds, often Midgard, the land of men, to deliver messages to mortals and run errands for Odin.  Hermod also stood at Odin’s side at the gates of Valhalla to welcome the dead human heroes brought there from battle by the Valkyries.  While it is quite a shame that more of Hermod's great exploits in his capacity as messenger of the Norse deities are lost or unrecorded, his courage and fleetness of foot remain well known and honored by those who follow the Norse Path.

Hermod probably survived Ragnarok.  He can be prayed to for guidance in finding your Path when all seems dark.  To gain his attention, give him food and drink for his journey.


Hail Hermod, Hel Rider

Hail Sleipnir’s Second Rider

Hail the Honor Hounded Hel Farer


Hail the Bearer of Frigga’s Embassy

Hail the Leaper of Hel’s Gate

Hail the Nine Days Darkness Rider


Hail Hermod, whose task failed through no fault of his own

Hail He who shows us that duties must be taken, even if they fail

Hail Hermod, who shows us that courage and devotion come in many forms

Hail He who shows us that it is the doing that matters most


Hail the Hel-farer, far traveled Hermod

Sleipnir’s bold rider, brave seeker of Balder

Hail Hermod, who took on the dark task

Hermod, Hel Rider; We Honor your Journey and your Gift

~ Eric S