Opening – Wayne Read, Song for Deirdre – played on the Guitar and X-harp.
Blackmore’s Night, Earth Wind and Sky, All our Yesterdays.
Damh the Bard, Thundersbarrow Hill, Sabbat
Omnia, Sister Sunshine, Wolf Love
Robert Gass, The Circle is Cast, Ancient Mother
HuDost, It’s Your Turn Now, In An Eastern Rosegarden
Kiva, Rise Up The Call, Out of the Corner of the Eye
Gaia Consort, Peace Now, Evolve
Brocc, Call of the Wild Woods, 13 Moons
Denean, Eagle Fly, The Weaving
Telling Point, Legend of the Old Wood, Waiting for Nothing.
Celia, Red Alabaster and Blue, Red Alabaster and Blue
Jenna Greene, Soul of Nature, Crossroads
Tuatha Dea, The Hunt / Corners, Kith & Kin
Steve McDonald, I Will Return, Sons of Somerled
So we have a bit of new music tonight ….
Well, once again, a group calling itself the “American Council of Witches” is alive on Facebook. For those who know their Pagan History, there was a legitimate American Council of Witches that was organized in 1973, which lasted for less than a year, and which disbanded in 1974. From this group, we have the 13 principles of Wiccan Belief. In 1973, Wicca and Paganism weren’t what they are today – there were far fewer of us around, and we weren’t very well understood. Indeed, while I first came to Paganism back in 1981 or 1982, things weren’t what they are today, but in truth, what the people who formed that first council were doing, was to begin a conversation that would change how Paganism was seen in the world – to dispel a huge amount of misinformation.
This first council was formed by Carl Llewellyn Weschke, Isaac Bonewits, Oberon Zell and many others – some of whom most of us might recognize, and some who most of us will not recognize. But most of us will recognize or agree with the 13 principles of Wiccan belief that these people authored. For those of you who haven’t heard them, they are:
We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the Moon and the seasonal Quarters and Cross Quarters.
We recognize that our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility towards our environment. We seek to live in harmony with Nature, in ecological balance offering fulfillment to life and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.
We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than that is apparent to the average person. Because it is far greater than ordinary it is sometimes called “supernatural“, but we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.
We conceive of the Creative Power in the universe as manifesting through polarity – as masculine and feminine – and that this same Creative Power lies in all people, and functions through the interaction of the masculine and feminine. We value neither above the other, knowing each to be supportive of the other. We value sex as pleasure, as the symbol and embodiment of life, and as one of the sources of energies used in magickal practice and religious worship.
We recognize both outer and inner, or psychological, worlds – sometimes known as the Spiritual World, the Collective Unconscious, Inner Planes, etc. – and we see in the interaction of these two dimensions the basis for paranormal phenomena and magickal exercises. We neglect neither dimension for the other, seeing both as necessary for our fulfillment.
We do not recognize any authoritarian hierarchy, but do honor those who teach, respect those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who have courageously given of themselves in leadership.
We see religion, magick and wisdom-in-living as being united in the way one views the world and lives within it – a world-view and philosophy of life which we identify as Witchcraft, the Wiccan Way.
Calling oneself “Witch” does not make one a Witch – but neither does heredity itself, nor the collecting of titles, degrees and initiations. A Witch seeks to control the forces within her/himself that make life possible in order to live wisely and well without harm to others and in harmony with Nature.
We believe in the affirmation and fulfillment of life in a continuation of evolution and development of consciousness, that gives meaning to the Universe we know, and our personal role within it.
Our only animosity towards Christianity, or toward any other religion or philosophy of life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be “the only way,” and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practice and belief.
As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the Craft, the origins of various terms, or the origins of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present and our future.
We believe that we should seek within Nature that which is contributory to our health and well-being.
Some Pagans might take issue with some of the details of some of these principles – some of these are far more Wiccan than others – I think that most of us might be able to come to some form of agreement with most of these.
In any case, along comes this new group, calling itself the American Council of Witches. They have a Facebook page, and one of the first things that I noted was their addition to these 13 principles. The four that were added include:
14)We are to protect the life of innocents and keep them safe.
15) we bow before no authority not even govermental.
16)Before the council you are judged.
17) traitors of the council shall be turned away and hunted down.
So, while I was at first mildly interested in this group, these four items caught my eye. I began to wonder by whose authority they were organized and operating, and so I asked a few pointed questions. At that point, I was blocked. But I wanted to do a little more research.
Another interested party has been archiving some of the posts by the admins on this page, and I discovered this in the archive …
I am regent and i shall speak to you all. i harbor a secret because i am well respected. Not many know why or how i am the answer is that when i was young the the witches of the seven covens performed a powerful ritual upon me putting me in to a sleep like death unable to move i woke to find myself in the astral plane surrounded by witches. I did not know who they were and i looked around and saw ropes and trees and a grave yard so horrible the stones were in the water. And at one of the trees their was standing a witch so old with such power that i agreed to her deal she who has power over all witches. Queen of the witches. I am bound to her will. I can hear whispers from the otherside. All witches have gifts and you know this to be true. I am the councils leader known as regent and i am herald to hecate. I am her vessel. I allow her to see through me because i respect her and because she is part of pagan history she who is queen of all witches. You can think of this origination as anything u wish: a council of witches, a coven, a inquisition anything you wish but we are here to stay and thats that. Blessed be! All hail hecate queen of the witches!
Well, isn’t that just special! This sounds much more like a fantasy game than any person who is serious about Witchcraft or Paganism.
I did a bit more checking, and looked at a few of the admins, and I discovered something curious … one admin has a total of zero friends in common with me, and another had two friends in common. To most people, this might not mean much – but to me, as a Pagan who has been active in the community for some time, what it says is that these people are connected to hardly anyone in the actual Pagan community. They are unknowns. What they are, is NOT PAGAN. They are pretenders, poseurs, and whatever agenda they have, it really has nothing to do with the Pagan community – so really, there is no “American Council of Witches”. What there is, is an American Council of People Pretending to be Witches. If they were for real, they wouldn’t be acting the way they are acting, they wouldn’t be saying the things they were saying, and they would actually have some connections to the actual, legitimate Pagan community.
What we really need though, is to have a legitimate American Council of Witches, whose only purpose is to exist, and to prevent other groups like this from trying to usurp the name. The work of the actual Council is done – it was completed in 1974.
Let’s hear some more music.
So, I came across a video that was produced about 16 years ago – called Drawing Down the Moon. This piqued my intereset because it stars Walter Koenig, of Star Trek fame. When I first heard of it, I wanted a copy, but it’s no longer in print. And it wasn’t even available in DVD form. But recently, I found a copy on Amazon that was available on VHS. For those who have given up your VHS players for DVD, there is a good reason to keep some pieces of obsolete technology around.
Anyway, it’s the story of a witch named Gwynyth McBride, and her adventures in a small town, as she is trying to open a homeless shelter and ritual space in a now unused Elks lodge. She’s fighting some local outlaws, known as “The corpration”, who want to use this building for their own purposes.
Walter Koenig plays the part of Joe Merchant, a Mathematician, who is representing The Corporation in their attempt to acquire the same property as McBride. Merchant had been a local drug dealer, but now works for the corporation – his only source of income, and uses those finances to help fund his mathematical aspirations.
In acquiring the lodge, McBride opens her homeless shelter, and also begins to perform healing magic in the building’s ritual space.
When a local minister objects to her work, because of her witchcraft practice she begins to do other work around the town and starts winning the townspeople over.
At one point, The Corporation, Merchant, and his goons begin to play hardball, using violence to try to get their way. The rest of the film is about her methods of dealing with these problems.
In modern parlance, McBride is quite the fluffy bunny – sometimes an accomplished martial artist, and at other times quite overly vulnerable.
Critically, the characters were overly stereotypical and shallow. Much of the dialog is fairly trite and shallow. And the witchcraft shown in the film is certainly not revealing any secrets.
BUT … what’s certain is that the writer, Steven Patterson (who was also the director, producer, etc.) had at least a passing acquaintance with witchcraft. He was also trying to do something good. If you can get past the fluffy qualities, and the sometimes lame-ish dialogue, it’s not that bad – and it’s actually nice that a film about Magick and Wicca was actually produced. And, as a bonus, you’ll get to hear some music by Kiva!
Lastly, tonight, I want to talk about all of the anti-LGBT bills that are being proposed and passed in a number of states. Under the guise of “Religious Freedom”, bigots in many states are proposing numerous laws to presumably support the religious freedom of their citizens. Some restrict which bathrooms transgender people can use, others would prevent lawsuits against people who discriminated because of their “sincerely held religious beliefs”.
The first thing to know about this is that none of these laws have anything to do with religious beliefs. These laws protect nobody’s religious beliefs, because nobody’s religious beliefs or practices are in any sort of jeopardy. The Bible – and its invariably “Christians” who propose this legislation which is a poor disguise for bigotry, says nothing about not baking cookies, making a flower arrangement or photographing a wedding just because you disagree with their choice of a life partner. If the Bible doesn’t have a prohibition against these things, and these Christians make the claim that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, then this idea that baking cookies violates someone’s religious beliefs is a total fabrication.
I was thinking yesterday about this same thing, and I realized something:
We talk about Christians having taken control of the GOP. But in truth, that’s not at all what happened.
I know Christians – they are good people. And it’s not Christians who took over the GOP.
Rather, what truly happened, is that people who hijacked Christianity managed to take over the GOP. And that is something far more frightening. It’s the same people who hijacked Islam. All over the world, there are people acting in the name of popular religions to enact this conservative agenda – an agenda of hatred. An agenda of intolerance.
If you want to blame someone for what has happened – don’t blame Christianity – blame Neo-conservatism. And be wary – for the enemy here in the United States is the same enemy everywhere – it just wears a different mask.
What so-called Christians are looking for in these laws has nothing to do with religious freedom – rather, what it has to do with, is homophobia, trans-phobia, and bigotry. It’s an excuse to practice hatred.
The real sad thing is that the people proposing these laws are just too damned stupid to understand the actual and real consequences of their proposals. And if you live in one of the states who has passed such legislation – listen up – because here is a way to make the consequences known.
If you’re living in one of these states, and one of these lawmakers who passed such legislation comes into your place of business – you now have a right to deny them service to these people on religious grounds. If you’re a Pagan in a state which has these RFRAs, you can legally refuse a Christian service. Certainly I wouldn’t recommend that you do, but rather, I’d recommend that you let these people know that you do have the right to refuse them service, but because you’re not a bigot, because you believe in actual religious freedom rather than bigotry and hatred disguised as religious freedom, that you choose to provide service to everyone. Just let them know that their law has granted you permission to send them out without service. It would be interesting to see what these people say – so if you do this, let me know – shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or let me know on Facebook.