PaganFM 082114

PaganFM Prayer List
The family and friends of Jim Foley and all those in our seacoast New Hampshire who are now affected by the brutality brought about by religious fundamentalism. Joseph’s wife, and also his friend’s daughter, Dave, Raymond, Sandy and Therese.

Musical Selections
Artist, Track, Album
Alexander James Adams, Fae Hollow Magic, Balance of Nature
Sede, Spider Web, Madgician
Damh the Bard, The Land of the Ever Young, The Hills they are Hollow
Wendy Rule, Oh How I Dreamed, Deity
The Moors, The Snake that Coils Within Without, The Moors
Spiral Dance, BLackthorn’s Rune, Magick
David Kydd, Joy Comes Again, The Gathering II
Kellianna, Ancestor’s Song, I Walk With the Goddess
Jenna Greene, Legends, Crossroads
Emerald Rose, Gwydion’s Song to Lleu, Archives of Ages to Come
Bell Book and Canto, I Heard the Valkyries Cry Last Night, Invocation
Arthur Hinds, Children of Cernunnos, Dance in the Fire
Kiva, Water Fire and smoke, Out of the Corner of the Eye

News.
Jim Foley, a Rochester New Hampshire native, and a reporter, was brutally murdered by ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. ISIS had demanded a payment from the US of Millions of dollars to release Foley, and a number of other nations have actually made payments in return for their citizens from terrorist organizations – but I feel that the United States is right in not paying ransom. Despite the brutality of the killing of Foley, who was decapitated with a knife, the truth is that paying ransom to terrorists only serves to arm them and to perpetuate their violence. Saving one individual results in the killing of many more. It’s sad to lose one – but Foley, being a well-trained and seasoned journalist, knew the cost, and, I believe, knew that ransoming him would have cost more lives, and he would have objected to paying that cost.

That ISIS stated at the time of the execution, that Jim was being killed in retaliation for the US attacks in Syria is a blatant lie. It’s nothing but an excuse – a way to pretend they are being strong or resolute, when the simple fact is that Jim was killed because the United States would not capitulate to their demands. ISIS is a fundamentalist organization that will use death and terrorism to get what they want. Anytime we capitulate or lend them even the least bit of credibility, more people will die.

Here in New Hampshire, a Mass of Healing, Hope and Peace will be held at Holy Rosary Church in Rochester at 2:00 PM on Sunday.

For those who are TLC fans, and who enjoy watching the exploits of the Duggar family on the show 19 Kids and Counting, the family Matriarch, Michelle recently loaned her voice to a robocall that is fighting an anti-discrimination law in Fayettevill Arkansas.

Working with the cult-like “Family” “Research” Council, Duggar is contributing to the hate-speech against transgender people, once again, linking them to pedophiles. Despite the fact that in NONE of the places where transgender people now have access to public facilities that are in alignment with their gender presentation, has there been an instance where women or children have been in any way harmed, liars like Duggar and the FRC continue to present such legislation as a means whereby sexual predators will prey on women and children. The fact that it’s never happened doesn’t matter to these people – it’s their goal to make people afraid of those they don’t like.

Here is Michelle’s Robocall.

For those who are actual fans of this cult on TLC, it might be worth relating that a number of people who the Duggars actually follow are, in fact, child predators. Yesterday, Suzanne Calulu posted on Patheos an article going into some of the problems with the whole Quiver Full movement. It was interesting to note that while Michelle is talking about transgender people posing a threat to women and children, the family has photos taken with people who have actually harmed women. One photo shows the Duggar girls posing with Bill Gothard, who recently resigned his post as President of Institute in Basic Life Principles, after 30 women filed Sexual Harrassment charges.

Despite the fact that three children have died when parents followed the teaching of Michael Pearl, and the subsequent conviction of parents who have used these methods, as far as the Duggars have gone is to remove endorsements for Pearl from their website, and have never repudiated the methods. They also still endorse S. M. Davis. Both of these men teach that the wills of children are to be broken, and that physical punishment such as hitting with objects is a good idea. Pearl recommended 3/4” plumbing tube for that purpose.

It’s kind of interesting that people like Duggar will ignore real harassment and dangers posed to women and children by the likes of Davis, Pearl and Gothard, while fostering fear of imaginary dangers that have never been demonstrated as a real problem.

This is how cults work – instilling fear where there is no real danger, and ignoring the real threats in one’s presence.

Quiz result
Our latest quiz was won by Gary Neal – Congratulations Gary!

Our latest quiz will be a bit different. We’ve got a number of CDs and download cards from Featherscale, Lindie Lila, Arthur Hinds and Will Ackerman. So what I’m going to ask is that you write me at dee@paganfm.com – or, if you want, to record a short .mp3 file, and just talk about your favorite memory of PaganFM – what is it that we’ve done that’s touched you in your own life. I’ll take the first 6 responses, and it will be something of a first-come, first choice on the CDs or download cards. When you write in, I’ll write back and let you know what’s available, and you get to choose. But we’ll need to have this done by say September 7 to insure that I have time to put the show together.
So again, just write me at dee@paganfm.com and send your words or audio, and let us know what your favorite moments of PaganFM have been.

PaganFM almanac
Hi I’m Carl, and this is the Pagan FM Almanac for August 21st, 2014.
Please note that all moon void of course data is courtesy of www.drstandley.com.
Today is Thursday, August 21st, 2014 and it is the 233rd day of the year.
The waning crescent moon is in Cancer and the Sun is in Leo.
The Moon will be void on Friday, August 22nd at 10:46 AM and will enter Leo at 10:53 PM.
The Sun will enter Virgo on Saturday, August 23rd at 12:46 AM.
The Moon will be void on Sunday, August 24th at 11:29 PM and will enter Virgo on Monday August 25th at 11:37 AM.
Meanwhile, August’s Dark Moon will occur on Monday, August 25th at 10:13 AM.
The Moon will be void on Wednesday, August 27th at 11:55 AM and will enter Libra at 11:53 PM.
Today, August 21st, is National Senior Citizen’s Day. Pagans already honor and respect this third aspect of the Triple Goddess and God, the Crone and the Sage. On this day, make a special effort to acknowledge the contribution of elders to your pagan community – pay a visit, make a call, spend some time. The life you enrich could be your own.
On August 22nd in 1966, the Beatles arrived in New York for the start of their final US tour. Hanging over the Fab Four throughout was the backlash associated with John Lennon’s observation earlier in the year that the Beatles were now “more popular than Jesus”. Taken out of context or no, the reaction in some Christian quarters to this statement, including demonstrations and record-burning bonfires, put a cloud over what would be the group’s final set of concerts. George Harrison, ever the pragmatist, commented regarding the record-burnings, “they’ve got to buy them before they can burn them.”
August 23rd is International Ride the Wind Day, in honor of the 1977 flight by Dr. Paul McCready in the Gossamer Condor, the first human-powered aircraft capable of controlled and sustained flight. By doing so it was the first winner of the Kremer Prize, a £50,000 award to the first human-powered craft capable of negotiating a one-mile figure-eight course while flying over a ten-foot pole at beginning and end. Hmmm…it’s no Nimbus 2000, but not bad for a muggle!
On August 24th in 1814, British General Robert Ross led his forces into Washington, D.C. after their victory at the Battle of Bladensburg. While most Congressmen and other officials were long gone by the time the British began approaching, then-President James Madison and his wife, Dolley (yes, Dolley Madison…) escaped virtually under the noses of the oncoming Brit troops, Mrs. Madison having paused long enough to oversee the safe removal of a classic portrait of George Washington that hung in the White House. Good thing, since the British forces, after a leisurely dinner in the captured executive mansion, proceeded to burn the White House to the ground in retaliation for the Americans’ earlier torching of Canada’s government buildings.
On August 25th in 1939, a children’s movie starring Judy Garland premiered in theaters throughout the United States. While a modest box-office success, the flick had legs, so to speak and has grown into one of the most enduringly popular and best-loved movies of all time. The Wizard of Oz, based on the novel by L. Frank Baum, was nominated for Best Picture but lost that Oscar to some chick flick called Gone With the Wind. The film did take the Best Song Oscar for “Over the Rainbow”, and Judy Garland received a special award for Best Juvenile Performer.
August 26th is National Dog Day, a day to honor service dogs, guide dogs, rescue dogs, and just plain dog dogs. Be sure to scratch someone special behind the ears that day…
Finally, on August 27th in 1883, the volcanic island of Krakatoa erupted, killing thousands in the worst natural disaster of modern times. Four unbelievably powerful eruptions took place within a five-hour period on this day, the last of which made a sound that could be heard 3,000 miles away in central Australia. Tsunamis hit shorelines in Java and Sumatra, pushing water miles inland and carrying coral blocks weighing hundred of tons onto the shore. Dust in the atmosphere dropped global temperatures noticeably for several years. Interestingly, the title of the 1969 disaster film Krakatoa, East of Java is incorrect. Krakatoa, or what is left of it, is actually west of Java. Never let mere facts get in the way of a catchy title…
And this has been the Pagan FM Almanac for August 21st, 2014.
For those who remember Julia, one of PaganFMs former co-hosts, and have been wondering what happened to her, she’ll be joining us on our 300th episode, so you’ll get to hear her then. She’s now making pottery out in Albuquerque, NM. If you’d like to see what she’s doing, you can check out her web site at www.venetiancat.com

Practical Pagan

I want to talk a bit tonight about Magic – or Magick with a K if you prefer. Certainly it’s a part of Wicca, and it’s a part of many Pagan paths. In fact, I’ll say, and I’ll explain it in detail later – magic is part of every religion practiced on Earth – and it’s part of the daily life of most of us.

While this piece is necessarily short – I don’t have the time or room to present a complete course in magic in 20 minutes or so, I will recommend one book to listeners – and that is Isaac Bonewits’ book Real Magic – it is one of the best that I’ve seen.

When I speak of “magic”, I’m speaking of something different than illusion, something different than stage magic. Indeed, that’s the reason that Pagans speaking of Magic often add a “k” to the end of the word. They use the archaic spelling to differentiate what Isaac Bonewits called “Real Magic” from stagecraft or illusion.

Before we go on, I want to bring up two terms that some of you may not be familiar with – these are theurgy and thaumaturgy. Theurgy is magic in a religious / ritual sense. It is achieved via prayer or supplication to some God. In Catholicism, it is thurgy which accomplishes the task of transubstantiation – the changing of the substance of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Theurgy comes from the words Theos meaning “God”, and Ergos meaning “Work”. So literally, Theurgy implies that “God does the work”. Miracles, healing, the works of Christ as described in the Bible, even the creation of the universe – if one were to accept the Bible as historical fact, are all demonstrations of Theurgy.

Some Christians might argue that works of God are not “magic”, that God doesn’t need magic – he’s God! But that is really a distinction without a difference. Recall that the most oft-used definition of magic – the one that we, as Pagans, are most likely to use is Crowley’s, which states that Magick is the art and science of effecting change in accord with will. To suggest that some God doesn’t use magic to do what he, she or it does, is to demand that we change the definition of the word “magick” to permit some other word to be used for what God might do, just because the people seeing the word get upset at the idea that God might use “magic”. The truth is that they’re simply upset at the word being used.

Thaumaturgy, on the other hand, doesn’t need to involve God. Thaumaturgy is what we, ourselves, do. This is the arena of spells rather than prayer; of ceremony rather than religious ritual.

Sometimes the line between Theurgy and Thaumturgy can be very fine. We can see the difference in sporting events when athletes are going through their rituals for success. The diver who crosses herself prior to her jump is practicing Theurgy, imploring of God to help her achieve perfection. The Baseball batter, constantly adjusting his gloves, or tapping the bat on the ground is practicing Thaumaturgy – a ritual that doesn’t involve any deity, but which he performs “for luck”. If you were to ask either of these individuals whether what they were practicinh were “magic”, they would almost certainly say “no”. But the truth is that they have a perception of what “magic” is, and they think they are doing something different.

Some people conflate magic and sorcery. And while sorcery can imply “magic” in general, sorcery tends to imply darker arts, including necromancy and the like. Also, the word “sorcerer” often implies maleficent types of magic. So as Pagans we tend to avoid terms like “sorcerer” and simply work with what we call magic.

Also, there is a difference between what I’d call “natural” magic and “ceremonial” magic. When you think of the two, consider again the baseball player who constantly adjusts his gloves or hat or whatever, and the priest presiding over a Catholic Mass. The folky way of the baseball player would be more akin to “natural magic”, where the priest, wearing the particular robes, with all the accouterments on the altar and the acolytes assisting him – this is more the realm of ceremonial magic.

But what’s really interesting is that no matter the “form” of magic, it is really the same forces involved. The most important force in all of our universe is will. Will is a bit different than simple desire – you might consider it to be “effective desire”, or a sort of desire that is possessing of a motive force behind it. It is a desire that is coupled with an irresistable, unquestioning force behind it. If we were to look once more to the Christian Bible, we see God, alone – with nothing but God in the midst of nothingness. And in Genesis Chapter 1, God creates the Heavens and the Earth, and says “Let there be light”.

This illustrates the steps of magick – there is first will. The second part is speaking. And it is in the speaking that will gains its power. Saying the words, bringing our own will into existence by the words we use is an essential part of any magickal act. Few human endeavors have ever come to fruition without words. If we think of any important human act, it is words that have made them come alive for us, and if we think back of any event that has touched us, they are almost all accompanied with words. Some of these are pleasant, some of them are lovely memories, some of them bring us back to dark times. Here are some words that might have touched you in various ways:

“Who shot J.R.?”
“Obviously a major malfunction”
“I am not a crook”
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman”
“Here’s Johnny.”
“Thrilla in Manilla”
“Ladies and Gentlemen, The Beatles”
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,”
“From Dallas, Texas, a flash, apparently official, President Kennedy died at one p.m., central standard time, two o’clock eastern standard time, some 38 minutes ago.”
“That’s one small step for man, One giant leap for mankind”.

Most of these quotes should be somewhat evocative to most of us, for they represent powerful moments in our lives. Of course there are images that are evocative as well – the collapse of the World Trade Center towers is one event where there was such a flurry of emotion and disbelief and words – that we may remember more visually than with any particular words, but the main point is that words – speech, conveys more than simple, random sound-waves.

Words are important because they form our magic, they give our will shape.

What are words? Basically, they are nothing but vibrating air. When we speak, we vibrate the air just as if our throats were a musical instrument – we take the air which is nothing but randomly moving atoms and molecules of air, and we give them shape and form, and we impose meaning on them.

So here are the important parts of magic – will and words. These are the two most important parts of any spell.

Our will is important, because it is our expression of desire – it is our mental image of what we wish to see changed in our world. Our words represent our first effort toward effecting that change. We might be in love, but often, until we say the words, the one we love will long to hear it. The words make it much more real.

Our will is our vision of our future, our words bring that future into existence.

The “ritual” part of spells are about raising and directing energy. What they do is to impart a certain force to our words. The energy takes the shape of our will, it becomes focused and directed with our words, and helps to shape the reality according to our own desires.

But nothing in magic is very likely to happen without our own effort. When we want something to happen, we have, after we have cast our spell, we need to act on it; it’s up to us to help bring it into fruition. We can’t for example, cast a spell to help us find a job, and then just sit on a couch and wait for the job to come to us.

When we have acted on our will for that job, and have said the words and cast a spell, it’s time to act. We need to get out and look. It’s like giving a car a tune-up, filling it with gas, and starting the engine. That’s the spell part, it’s established the means, but we still need to put the car in gear, step on the gas, and steer to our destination.

Will is one thing – words are another, but the third part is action.

Some will say that if we “act”, then it really wasn’t the magick that accomplished something, but our own actions. The point is that our own actions are part of that magic. Remember the definition – “the art and science of effecting change in accordance with will”. Nowhere does it suggest that action isn’t relevant!

PaganFM 081414

Gallery

PaganFM Prayer List Raymond, Therese, Joseph’s wife who may have suffered a stroke, Arthur’s dad, and Amy who’s a new Mom. Musical Selections Artist, Track, Album Arthur Hinds, Let the Circle be Unbroken, Dance in the Fire Damh the Bard, … Continue reading

PaganFM 080714

PaganFM Prayer List
Therese, Raymond and Dave

Musical Selections
Artist, Track, Album
Arthur Hinds, Dance in the Fire, Dance in the Fire
Damh the Bard, The Horned God – an Unofficial Biography, As Nature Intended
Ray Spiegel Ensemble, Moksha, Moksha
Akashik, Long Forgotten
Annwn, The Bard’s Exhortation to the Salaryman, Come Away to the Hills

News:
Cara Shulz over at The Wild Hunt is taking on a new endeavor – Jason reports that she will be running for city council of Burnsville, MN. This is a non-partisan office, but it’s likely that Cara is one of the few – if any – Helenic Polytheists seeking office in the United States. We wish her luck. Those interested can find some of her videos on her Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpMbfPQR8gDXXY1X1-cO7xg

The Open Halls project is a group that seeks to
Support heathens in the armed forces
Connect military heathens supporters and each other
Advocates for the rights of heathens in the armed forces
On July 29, they posted the following to their Facebook page:
I was going to wait till tomorrow, but I want to make a brief official Open Halls Project statement on some awesome news.

For the last five years, the Open Halls Project has been working to get our religious preference added to any and all Department of Defense official lists. We started with the Army, and are very very close to having everything in order to have that request finally approved. (I don’t want to say it is approved or will be, until it is, but at this point, we’ve done nearly everything we can to get it squared away)

That isn’t the great news, though! Following our campaign to raise awareness for our drive to get the Army to add Asatru and Heathen, the solid and professional Air Force Msgt Matt Walters began the process of adding those same preferences to the AF system. Today he received approval for Asatru and Heathen to be added to the official AF list!!!

This is an awesome victory for us, and one that has required a lot of awareness raising and a lot of paperwork. We want to officially thank Msgt Walters for making this happen for the Air Force. Now all our Airmen need to go change their Religious Preference!!!

We aren’t stopping there either. We will continue to push the Army request, and our loyal and dedicated members are already talking about using the Air Force victory to get the Navy and the Marines to add these two preferences to their official lists.

Keep up the good work everyone!

PaganFM Almanac

Hi I’m Carl, and this is the Pagan FM Almanac for August 7th, 2014.
Please note that all moon void of course data is courtesy of www.drstandley.com.
Today is Thursday, August 7th, 2014 and it is the 219th day of the year.
The waxing gibbous moon is in Capricorn, and the Sun is in Leo.
The Moon will be void on Saturday, August 9th at 5:08 AM and will enter Aquarius at 2:36 PM.
August’s Full Moon, the Grain Moon or Corn Moon, will occur Sunday August 10th at 2:09 PM.
The Moon will be void on Monday, August 11th at 4:13 AM and will enter Pisces at 1:39 PM.
The Moon will be void on Wednesday August 13th at 4:06 AM and will enter Aries at 1:57 PM.
Today, August 7th, is National Lighthouse Day. If you are in the Portsmouth area, give a nod and perhaps a wave to the Portsmouth Harbor Light, reputedly haunted by the spirit of Keeper Joshua Card. Card manned the light for thirty-five years until he retired in 1909 at the age of eighty-seven. When asked what the letter “K” on his uniform stood for, Keeper Card would always laughingly say “Captain”. A native of New Castle, Card seemed to enjoy living at the light, taking only one extended vacation in his thirty-five year tenure. Apparently his fondness of the location continued after his passing – during a paranormal investigation at the light in 2005, a digital recorder picked up a male voice responding to the spoken question “who are you?” with the words “The Captain”.
August 8th is a hat trick day in US Presidential history. On August 8th in 1968, running mates Richard Milhouse Nixon and Spiro Theodore Agnew received the Republican Party’s nomination to run for the presidency. On August 8th in 1974, Richard Nixon became the first President in history to resign the position, rather than face almost certain impeachment over his role in the political scandal known as Watergate. Finally, also on August 8th 1974, Vice President Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. was sworn in as President to replace Nixon, becoming the first President in history to attain that office as a result of appointment instead of election.
Under the category of serendipitous juxtapositions, August 9th is International Book Lovers Day, perhaps a good time to go out and pick up that new book you’ve had your eye on, and Sunday, August 10th is International Lazy Day, the perfect time to kick back and enjoy the book you splurged on the day before.
On August 11th in 1984, then-President Ronald Reagan made an off-the-cuff remark while sound-checking a microphone before a radio broadcast: “I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” While the quip was not broadcast, it was recorded, and later played back to the predictable chagrin of the Soviet government, which managed to turn its attention away from its collapsing “evil empire” long enough to register official disapproval. In commemoration of that event, August 11th has henceforth been known as National Presidential Joke Day – a day on which we celebrate the sense of humor found inside the Oval Office.
And so, tonight we present the first Pagan FM Almanac Top Thirteen List, category – Presidential Jokes. The criteria are simple: the joke must involve a deliberate attempt at humor by a sitting President. For example, Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook.” – not a deliberate attempt at humor. Also, John Kennedy, addressing complaints that his father’s fortune was “buying” the presidential primary, “I just received the following wire from my generous Daddy: Dear Jack, Don’t buy a single vote more than is necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide.” – unfortunately, not a sitting President (yet).
13) Harry Truman; “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”
12) Lyndon Baines Johnson; “Making a speech on economics is a lot like peeing down your leg – it seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else.”
11) Barack Obama; “I got my first name, Barack, from my father. And I got my middle name from somebody who obviously didn’t think I’d ever run for President.”
10) Abraham Lincoln, when accused of being duplicitous; “If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”
9) Ronald Reagan; “Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.”
8) George W. Bush; “You can fool some of the people all the time and those are the ones you want to concentrate on.”
7) Bill Clinton; “Being President is like running a cemetery. You’ve got a lot of people under you and nobody’s listening.”
6) Ronald Reagan; “I’m not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.”
5) Barack Obama; “There are few things in life harder to find and more important to keep than love. Well, love and a birth certificate.”
4) Ronald Reagan; “I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency – even if I’m in a Cabinet meeting.”
3) Bill Clinton; “My esteem in this country has gone up substantially. It is very nice now when people wave at me, they use all their fingers.”
2) George W. Bush; “These stories about my intellectual capacity really get under my skin. You know, for a while I even thought my staff believed it. There on my schedule first thing every morning it said, ‘Intelligence Briefing’.”
And, the number one Presidential joke, combining a tip of the funny-bone to the day’s founding inspirer with bonus points for ad-libbing under stress:
1) Ronald Reagan, to a phalanx of masked and gowned surgeons standing over him as he was rolled into an operating room after being shot by a would-be assassin in 1981; “I hope you’re all Republicans.”
On August 12th in 2010, Phillip Emmons Isaac Bonewits, Druid, author, singer/songwriter, founder of the Aquarian Anti-Defamation League, and the first person to graduate from an accredited university with a degree in magic, passed to the Summerland at the age of sixty.
August 13th is one of the days of the Goddess Hecate. Leave an offering of food at the place where three roads meet – especially sweets like honey cakes, to appease the Mother of All Witches and prevent storms from disrupting the coming harvest.
Finally, August 13th is International Left Handers Day, a day to celebrate sinistrality. Interestingly, while only about 10% of the population at large are left-handed, seven of the last fourteen US Presidents have been southpaws, including Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. Sinister, indeed…
And this has been the Pagan FM Almanac for August 7th, 2014.

Trivia contest

Who was Dafo?

The winner will receive a copy of Arthur Hinds’ new album Dance in the Fire
Practical Pagan
Neo-Pagan history.

It’s important in most human endeavors – excluding perhaps politics and sales – to strive for honesty. Now, it might be admirable to be an honest salesperson, and it would certainly be refreshing to see an honest politician, but I’m not really holding my breath for either of these two to show up. Nor would I expect any such to be especially successful in their endeavors. But as individuals, honesty is a laudable goal.

When we get into the realm of religion, that honesty is even more important. One of the biggest problems we face as people of faith is the incredulity of others, that is often fueled by charlatans who pose as people of faith. It’s interesting that sometimes the people who consider themselves faithful, almost consider it a mark of pride to express a state of being that is so credulous they will believe almost anything.

The problem is that many of us are unsure of our own faith. It really doesn’t matter what the religion is – the simple truth is that most of us who are adherents of any faith, really, when it comes down to it, know very little about what it is that we say we believe. And really, this lack of a solid foundation isn’t limited to matters of religion. As an experiment once, while at a Pagan Pride Day celebration, I asked quite a few people what they were celebrating and why – and fewer than half of those that I asked knew anything about the Stonewall riots.

Those of us who don’t really know what it is that we believe, and who at the same time hold on so fiercely and would fight and argue and rage against anyone who disagrees with us aren’t doing ourselves any favors. But what’s probably more dangerous is that those of us who don’t really understand what it is that we believe, are more likely to be sucked into error or to be taken advantage of.

One example of this is Peter Popoff and those who, despite the fact he’s a demonstrated fraud, still believe in him. Mandy and Deo, some years ago, had a bit of fun at Peter’s expense, and this guy is a good target. Peter came to prominence in his faith healing ministry, and part of his act was telling people important details about themselves. He’d be on stage, and he’d tell people their addresses, what was ailing them, and make the claim that God wanted them healed.

His ministry was investigated by James Randi, and it was discovered that Popoff’s wife was simply reading the information that people had written on cards- names, addresses, ailments and the like. Still, people bought the act as if Popoff was getting messages from God.

Shortly after being exposed by James Randi, Popoff’s ministry went through a bankruptcy, but he’s back in business. And he’s got a slick website, and he’s still offering his “miracle spring water”. And what’s funny is that there are still demonstrable lies – even in his own history. For one, he claims that his grandfather and father were raised behind the iron curtain. The problem is that the Iron Curtain didn’t exist until about 1945, and Popoff was born in 1946. So, while his family may have been in Eastern Germany, his father couldn’t have been raised behind the Iron Curtain – because it didn’t exist – it was part of the Cold War.

Certainly he may be using the fact that during World Wars 1 and 2, his family lived in a tumultuous area, but the truth doesn’t always sound as dramatic or compelling as the fabrications.

Another popular lie that many believed was the story of James Frey in what he initially called a memoir. The book A Million Little Pieces was featured on Oprah’s Book Club in 2005, and it was a hit. Frey had a number of interviews, but it was soon pointed out that much of the book was fabricated. Even then, Frey stated that the book represented “the essential truth of my life”. But after the lies were exposed, it’s now sold as a “semi-fictional novel”.

The thing is that as human beings, there are some things we want to believe in, and other things aren’t as important to us. We want to believe in a God. We want to believe that people can change. But sometimes the facts of particular situations don’t seem to matter to us.

George Carlin once sagely noted: “Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure.”

It seems to me that this is true because if things are difficult to prove, we take the easy way and simply choose to believe, while, when things are easy to test, we refuse to believe them until we check for ourselves. The truth is that we can’t prove either the existence, or the non-existence of any God by such an easy means as touching.

Our faith is something that must be reached internally. We test things of faith by the way we live our lives, and by our own personal experiences in our acts of worship – and it’s the same for any religion – be it Wicca, Druidism, Christianity, Islam or any other.

I suspect that most everyone listening today recognizes that we can’t transplant our faith to another individual – it must be something they arrive at organically. But people can be attracted to a faith by the way that faithful live their lives. The problem though, is that when someone asks, we need coherent answers.

One of the places where those answers seem woefully lacking, to me, is in our own Pagan history; especially that of Wicca. I’ve seen lots of bumper stickers – and you can see them all the time at Pagan Pride celebrations – about “The Old Religion”. It seems to be a popular mythology that Wicca is simply the continuation of an ancient religion that has existed since the days of Matriarchal cultures in Europe.
Gerald Gardner really didn’t do us any favors when he presented Wicca as such.

But the problem is that this tale is demonstrably false. If we want to believe ourselves, and if we want others to believe us as well, it’s important that our own faith be based in things that are true. So, what is the true history of Wicca?

In the early 20th century, there was a resurgence of spiritualism, and there was a growing dissatisfaction, among some, of traditional organized religion. This was the day of the Rosicrucians and the Masons. The Masons do date back to the early 18th century – with the first lodge being founded in 1717. There are documents dating back to the 15th century that some say demonstrate a Masonic tradition to those times, but that’s something for historians to figure out.

In any case, in the early 20th century, the Witch Cult hypothesis was popularized by such writers as Margaret Murray, which suggested an earlier, magical, matriarchal cult throughout Europe. Armed with mystical Rosicrucian and Masonic teachings, some people in Europe were trying to recreate some of these earlier religions. In some ways, this had been going on as far back as the 18th century with organizations like the Ancient Order of Druids, but 20th century writings helped spur things along.

Anyway, in 1954, Gerald Gardner published the book Witchcraft Today, in which he claimed that he met some people who were part of an ancient witch cult. He said that he met these people through Rosicrucian meetings.

It’s from Gardner that we get what is called Wicca today, as it is from his pen that the rituals of Wicca were communicated. The thing is that when those rituals are examined, they contain a good deal of spiritualism and Rosicrucian ritual. Gardner’s answer to this was that the rituals he had received from the New Forest Coven were incomplete and he needed to add materials to form them into a coherent whole.

So, the thing is that even if there were an ancient witchcraft cult still existing in England in the 1950s, there aren’t complete rituals extant from that cult. Gerald Gardner himself admitted that he wrote much of that material. We know, also, that Doreen Valiente, Gerald Gardner and others wrote much of the rest of the material that makes up what is the closest to sacred texts that Wiccans hold on to.

Does this mean that because Wicca isn’t really ancient, that it’s somehow tainted? Not at all! What taints Wicca or Druidism or Reconstructed faiths of any sort isn’t their lack of antiquity – every religion ever practiced by anyone, was, at some time or other, new. What taints a religion is false claims.

When we make the claim that the Christian Church killed 9 Million women, when we make the claim that Wicca is the old religion practiced by our ancient Celtic forebears, when we claim to have powers that we don’t, when we claim an ancient family tradition that doesn’t really exist – these are the things that taint a religion.

I’ve found many Pagans tend to fall for New Age spirituality, feeling that it represents some authentic aboriginal tradition, and there have been many such things that have infiltrated over time. Again though, it’s not necessarily the practice that is harmful, but the misrepresentation of such things as authentic traditional practices.

Native Americans have a term for people who try to pass off New Age philosophy as authentic – such people are called Plastic Shamans. One example of a practice that seems to have no authentic basis in tradition is Huna, as described by Max Freedom Long and others. Ho’oponopono is being popularized by those who claim to practice Huna – and while I can’t say much about the practice of Ho’oponopono, it’s obvious that the whole practice of Huna is nothing but cultural appropriation by new age scam artists.

There are countless people pandering Peyote experiences and sweat lodge experiences, claiming to be Native American Shamans – and such as these really have nothing to do with Native American spirituality at all. People who do this create two major problems for both indigenous peoples and those who wish to practice something of an authentic spirituality that is connected to the land: Firstly, they divide us from relationships with indigenous peoples. Some of us who have studied with these “plastic shamans” leaving us thinking we really know something of that culture – that we may have been “initiated” into a secret, ancient tradition. That’s simply not true. What they have done is to take our money, leave us poorer, and gifted us with a greater ignorance than when we first met them. As a wise person once noted, “it’s not what you don’t know that makes you look stupid – it’s what you do know that just ain’t so.”

The other problem is that when we accept the foolishness of such “teachers” as truth, we become even more credulous, and we stop thinking for ourselves. The moment we stop thinking for ourselves, we become excellent targets for those who might take advantage of us.

How do we avoid being taken advantage of? We do this by knowing our own history and not being afraid of, or ashamed of it. So what if we’re Wiccan and Wicca is really only about 60 years old? Remember that the Baha’i Faith only came into existence in the late 19th to early 20th century. The Mormon faith only dates to about 1820, and Christian Science to about 1879. There are new religions forming all the time, and it isn’t in their antiquity that we find truth.

History is only important insofar as it is true history. We can make up various tales and mythologies, and these can be important teaching tools, but they can’t be realistic substitutes for authentic history. When someone challenges us on some element of our own history, that’s not a time to become defensive, it’s a time to learn. If we know our history, we’re on safe ground. But if we are uncertain, if that ground might be shifting beneath us, it’s not a time to become defensive – it’s a time to say – you know, I don’t know, let me look that up. Ignorance isn’t the enemy – certainty in falsehood is.

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