Tags: history

goddess and god

1,000 people to light the length of Hadrian's Wall

1,000 people to light the length of Hadrian's Wall
by Ginny Light, Times Online, February 23, 2010
Times Online captures the dress rehearsal for an ambitious project that will link the 84-mile Roman wall in a line of light on March 13
"It is forbiddden to climb on Hadrian's Wall, to remove even a fragment of stone or to make a lasting imprint in the ground around it, but next month more than 1,000 people will set it alight.

The plan, on March 13, is to ignite a chain of 500 points of light along the 84-mile length of the wall to illuminate it in a line of flaming torches and flares.

Times Online was there to film the practice run, above, which saw 12 points of light ignited in a dress rehearsal. "
goddess and god

Golden Bough found in Italy, No Witches in Nigeria, Witchcraft Through the Ages

Golden Bough from Roman mythology 'found in Italy'
Italian archaeologists claim to have found a stone enclosure which once protected the legendary "Golden Bough".
By Nick Squires in Rome, telegraph.co.uk, 18 Feb 2010
"In Roman mythology, the bough was a tree branch with golden leaves that enabled the Trojan hero Aeneas to travel through the underworld safely.

They discovered the remains while excavating religious sanctuary built in honour of the goddess Diana near an ancient volcanic lake in the Alban Hills, 20 miles south of Rome.

They believe the enclosure protected a huge Cypress or oak tree which was sacred to the Latins, a powerful tribe which ruled the region before the rise of the Roman Empire.

The tree was central to the myth of Aeneas, who was told by a spirit to pluck a branch bearing golden leaves to protect himself when he ventured into Hades to seek counsel from his dead father.

In a second, more historically credible legend, the Latins believed it symbolised the power of their priest-king.

Anyone who broke off a branch, even a fugitive slave, could then challenge the king in a fight to the death. If the king was killed in the battle, the challenger assumed his position as the tribe's leader.

The discovery was made near the town of Nemi by a team led by Filippo Coarelli, a recently retired professor of archaeology at Perugia University.

After months of excavations in the volcanic soil, they unearthed the remains of a stone enclosure.

Shards of pottery surrounding the site date it to the mid to late Bronze Age, between the 12th and 13th centuries BC."
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Nigeria: 'No Witches Here'
by Mary Ekah, AllAfrica.com, ‎Feb 18, 2010‎
"Recently, Gov Godswill Akpabio visited the Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN), Ikot Afaha, Eket Local Government Area, where some 201 children abandoned by their parents and guardians gathered for a surprise package. Guided by their teachers, they rendered improvised songs to welcome their special guests.

Some of the inmates, according to the proprietor of the centre, Samuel Itauma, were street children. Some were dumped at birth while quite a number were sent out of their homes by their parents or guardians on grounds that they were witches or wizards.
[...]
So far, the governor has done a lot to change the situation of abandoned children. Beyond putting policies in place, he has also worked on the self esteem of the people; changing their mental orientation. "You would no longer hear children being thrown into the streets any longer. Many parents are learning. I know also that, yes, the story was a bit blown out of proportion the extent of which might not have been as it was but for me. What was important was that if it was happening at all, it had to be nipped in the bud to ensure the protection of our children. It is not true that Akwa Ibom State is full of witchcraft people. What is true is that there were a few fraudsters, fake pastors and bishops masquerading under the guise of Christianity and making money from gullible and unsuspecting members of the public by branding the children witches", he said.

However, if there are still those left in the Stone Age when harmful traditional beliefs ruled the day, Akpabio intends to jolt them out of their illusions with legislations. Now, there's a law in place against stigmatization of children and defaulters risk 10 years in jail."
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To Do: Witchcraft Through the Ages
Anni Saastamoinen, District Weekly, Long Beach CA, Fri. February 19
"Writer/director Benjamin Christensen’s 1922 Swedish/Danish silent film Häxan (aka Witchcraft Through the Ages) documents the history of witchcraft as it was then known, depicting how superstition and the misunderstanding of diseases could feed hysterical witch-hunts. Banned in the United States—and heavily censored elsewhere due to dramatized scenes of torture, nudity and sexual perversion—the film will be scored Friday by the Jimi Cabeza De Vaca Arcestra. The Arcestra’s music alone is capable of giving you the chills—all the better for watching demons dally with witches.

The Art Theatre, 2025 E Fourth St, Long Beach CA 90814. 562.438.5435. Fri 11:55pm. $10. arttheatrelongbeach.com."
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goddess and god

Avatar Tree, Who is God?, Biodiversity, Lupercalia, 17th Century East Anglia

Is Avatar' anti-(fill in the blank)?
by Douglas Brode, TheNewsTribune.com, 02/08/10
"The "pro-environmentalist" theme is present. But what's wrong with that? Why do so many contemporary "conservatives" recoil in horror from principles of "conservation" when those two terms derive from the same word? This wasn't always the case: former President George H.W. Bush proudly stated, "I'm a conservationist. Always have been. Always will be." Another Republican president, Teddy Roosevelt, initiated our environmental policies.

So! If Disney's "Pocahontas" (1995) were released today, would it likewise come under scrutiny for projecting the same supposedly "liberal" themes?

Speaking of Disney, in its Florida resort area sits a 500-acre site called Animal Kingdom, a theme park dedicated to "nature and conservation." On its opening day, sign-wielding demonstrators from the left massed to complain that animals were exploited there. Yet this modern zoo and rehabilitation center for harmed beasts has no bars. Should those protesters now be replaced by rightists, angry about efforts made there to protect the natural world?

The epicenter of Animal Kingdom is The Tree of Life, 14 stories high, 50 feet wide. Visitors resemble the indigenous blue creatures in "Avatar" who gather around their own, similar tree. This brings up the most heated attack on "Avatar" - i.e., that Cameron's film is "anti-religious." Is there any truth to that? Actually, answering "yes" or "no" depends on how an individual defines the term "anti-religious."

Positive symbolic use of the tree does run directly against the grain of the JudeoChristian Bible. Those anonymous figures who set down the moral fables of Genesis set out to reverse the meanings of pagan icons, which celebrated nature in general, the tree in particular. With roots burrowing down into the earth and leaves that reach toward Heaven above, the tree was worshipped as a natural bridge between here and there."
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Local religions answer the question: Who is God?
by Lisa Larson, St. George Daily Spectrum, ‎Feb 6, 2010‎
"It's a word uttered by many - religious and non. At times it is shouted in anger and other times whispered in prayer. It represents a person to some and an idea to others so the answer to the question: "Who is God?" is as varied as the people who respond.

"I don't know that I would answer it," said Melanie Cottam, a neo-pagan of Cedar City. "Being pagan there is no set person to worship or celebrate."

That said, Cottam does have a concept of deity, but the god - or goddess in her case - depends on the needs of the person seeking help, the season of the year, or the phase of the person's life.

There are hundreds of gods and goddesses, said Cottam, adding that she thinks of these beings more in a spiritual realm. "I can call upon them to give me strength for what I'm needing, similar to how Christians will pray."

"I pray but I just don't pray to the same person every day," she said.
[...]
For Warren Wright, lay leader with Unitarian Universalists in St. George, this is something that remains a great mystery of life.

"For me, it's an unknown. It's not knowable," Wright said. "I've always felt it would certainly be nice to know what relationship we may have with our creator. But whether God, or the creator of us all, has any interest in us as individuals, I don't know. I think that's questionable."

Wright describes himself as an agnostic, though people who gather with the Unitarian Universalists come from a variety of theological backgrounds. When it comes to the idea of God, Wright said the agnostic approach seems to be the most honest.

"You just don't know," he said. "When you think about the concepts of god around the world, to limit it to one approach seems very difficult to swallow."

If a person chooses to believe in one of these concepts, Wright said it is important to have a balance of masculine and feminine attributes in the expression of God.

"A lot of people, not just Unitarians, would argue against the emphasis on the masculine part of God," he said.

Cottam said she prefers to focus on a feminine deity because she grew up in a patriarchal house.

"I'm kind of done with that. I need more of a matriarchal house," she said.
[...]
Cottam said her knowledge of the pagan gods came after a lot of study as well.

"I think the most important thing for people to know is they have the freedom to choose what makes them happy. When it comes to religion, they need to follow their heart," Cottam said. "As long as they're not hurting anyone and doing what makes them happy in life, they're going to find that peace in their life.""
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Saluting Darwin, Biodiversity
by Warren D. Allmon, The Ithaca Journal, February 8, 2010
"The diversity of life is truly staggering: approximately 1.7 million species have been described so far, and estimates of the total range from 10 to 100 million. Everyone should know three things about this mind-boggling panoply:

* It really matters. For example, biodiversity mirrors and enhances the overall health of ecosystems, and therefore ultimately of human communities, and all those species provide abundant ecological "services" such as pest and flood control. They are also treasure troves of genes and chemicals that we can use for medicine, agriculture and other important purposes.

* We are losing species at a rapid and quickening pace, due to human activity. Between one quarter and one half of all species on Earth will likely be gone within the next two centuries, amounting to a mass extinction of a size not seen since the disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

* Finally - and back to Darwin - all of these species are the unique and irreplaceable products of millions of years of evolution. Because they were evolved, and not created, once they are gone they are gone forever. They may eventually be "replaced" by evolution, but this will take hundreds of thousands to millions of years, and we will be long gone by then. Evolution, in other words, should encourage us to value and protect the biodiversity with which we share the planet, because it is all we're going to have."
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Will you be my Valentine?
Thaindian.com - Shobha Shukla February 9th, 2010
"In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Houses were ritually cleansed. Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, and to Juno, the goddess of marriage, as well as to Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or luperca. The priests would then sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. The boys then sliced the goat’s hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took to the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with them. Roman women welcomed this, as it was believed that the strips would make them more fertile. Later in the day, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would then each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage. This custom lasted until the 1700s when people decided their beloveds should be chosen by sight, and not by luck.
[...]
Today Valentine’s Day is a popular observance around the world and has been increasing in popularity in India too, in recent years. Despite complaints from fanatic religious groups that it is a western phenomenon, destroying Indian culture, Valentine’s Day has now become a widely recognized and celebrated day with the Indian youth.

Similar is the situation in some other countries like Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran, and Pakistan , where the hardliners forbid any romantic relationship, dubbing it un-Islamic, unless the couple is married. Nevertheless, the occasional heart-shaped gift, stuffed animals with love messages and flowers sneak their way in the shops, and the Day is becoming increasingly popular among young people.

We must remember that Valentine’s Day is not a day of debauchery, as made out by religious fanatics. It is a day that celebrates love and romance, and the only ritual performed is when a guy sends flowers or candy to his sweetheart. We should not let it become a consumer driven holiday, which fills the coffers of the rich. Let it remain a celebration of love and hope, as it was meant to be.

In a world full of hate and discord, let the true meaning of Valentine’s Day be embraced by all cultures. Valentine’s Day should be the ultimate ecumenical observation. What religion or culture could possibly be against love?"
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Region caught up in witchcraft and war
Great Yarmouth Mercury, UK, 08 February 2010
"THE turmoil of the 17th century will be explored during a series of public lectures starting at the University of East Anglia this week.

The 17th century witnessed war, revolution and profound social change.

East Anglia was caught up in these life-shaping events: its population divided by the English civil wars; the region experienced periodic witchcraft trials; and the enclosure of common land drove many poor people to the brink of desperation.

Entitled 'The Turbulent 17th Century', the lecture series has been organised by the Centre of East Anglia Studies, based in the School of History. Experts in the history of the region from the universities of East Anglia, Essex and Warwick will present cutting-edge research into the revolutionary changes experienced by people during this time.

On Thursday, Prof Steve Hindle (Warwick) will talk on 'Work, reward and labour discipline in 17th century England', while 'Popular politics and seditious speech in early 17th century Norwich' is the subject of Dr Fiona Williamson's lecture on February 18.

Dr Alison Rowlands (Essex) will give a lecture entitled '17th century witch-hunts in comparative context' on February 25, and Prof John Walter (Essex) will present 'Swearing oaths and subscribing petitions: East Anglia gets ready for war' on March 4.

All lectures take place in Lecture Theatre 2 at UEA. Admission is free and all are welcome."
goddess and god

Rerspect Religious Diversity, or Don't, New Pagan Literary eZine, Egyptomania

This is great! It made me want to stand up and salute!
At the Air Force Academy, it's all about respect
by Lt. Gen. Mike C. Gould, U.S. Air Force Academy superintendent, 2/3/2010
"The Air Force Academy is not the first Air Force institution to accommodate Earth-centered religions and we won't be the last. However, at the Air Force Academy the issue of religion is far greater than accommodation, it's about religious respect.

The mission of the United States Air Force Academy is to educate, train and inspire men and women to become officers of character to lead the United States Air Force in service to our nation. We are dedicated to creating a learning and training environment where cadets can realize their highest potential regardless of their religious or other beliefs.

Cadets learn that to succeed as an Air Force officer we must be able to support and respect the people who we lead, serve with and fight alongside even if they do not share our personal beliefs.

Cadets learn that every service member is charged with defending freedom for all Americans and that includes the freedom to practice a religion of their choice or to not practice any religion at all.

Cadets learn that it is a great honor and privilege to wear the uniform of our armed services and serve to protect freedom, to include religious freedom.

On graduation day, the same day as they are awarded a commission as second lieutenants in the United States Air Force, they will take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

At the Air Force Academy we focus and will continue to focus on respect for human dignity to ensure all personnel respect the spirit and intent of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This is our common duty as members of the United States Air Force."


Stone Simple: Texas Pastor Can't Grasp The Basics Of Religious Liberty
by Rob Boston, Americans United (blog), February 8th, 2010
"What is it with these guys? They just don’t get one of the fundamental features of America life: When it comes to religion, you get to make your own decisions, and you get to choose.

Does your religion teach that homosexuality is a sin? Then don’t check out books that portray homosexuality in a positive light from the library. Does your faith frown upon Pagan rituals? Don’t attend any. It couldn’t be any simpler.

But understand that you have no right to make personal decisions about religion for anyone else. And understand that your bigotry and intolerance stands in opposition to the values of our First Amendment.

Rev. Jeffress, I have a news flash for you: Americans have the right to choose whatever religion they want – or reject them all. They have the right to change their minds, too. They have the right to blend elements from several traditions into their own personal faith.

They also have the right to think you’re all wet.

I believe the right of religious liberty is one of the most important and valuable things about America. I’m sorry Jeffress doesn’t agree. Every time I read a column like Jeffress’ recent screed, I am reminded of why the work of Americans United is so important."


Ah, scare quotes.
Chapel: a subordinate or private place of worship: as a : a place of worship serving a residence or institution b : a small house of worship usually associated with a main church c : a room or recess in a church for meditation and prayer or small religious services

Pagan 'chapel' at Air Force Academy
by Chad Groening, OneNewsNow, 2/8/2010
"The retired officer adds that the military at large has already recognized these groups. "There are witch covens at various military installations that are supported by the military chaplains corps, and that's something that a non-discriminatory chaplaincy has to do," he says.

So Maginnis concludes that the under the circumstances, it is probably appropriate for the Air Force Academy to provide a place for these religions."


Opinion: Air Force Academy Recognizes Paganism: Independence Day or Halloween?
by Michael Terheyden, Catholic Online, ‎Feb 5, 2010‎
"Lt. Gen. Mike C. Gould informs us that the recognition of paganism is an expression of the highest respect and dignity toward others; that it serves and protects our freedom, including religious freedom; and that it supports and defends the Constitution of the United States. So how come I do not feel assured?

Well, one reason is that earth-centered religions are classified under neo-paganism, the new-age revival of a loose collection of ancient European pagan religions and witchcraft.

Paganism and witchcraft are not equal to the major religions of the world. I believe that it largely died out throughout much of the world because, based on the idea of “survival of the fittest,” it was not the fittest.

In general it was violent and blood thirsty and mired in superstition and magic. It was seemingly unable to provide the glue necessary to maintain a healthy culture and society.

It is true that others have the right in our country to believe what they want, and we should defend that right, but it is another thing altogether to treat every belief as being equal when they are not.

Consequently, it does not seem competent or rational when the Air Force Academy, one of the premier training institutions of our military, equates neo-paganism with the major religions of the world and claims this is, somehow, indicative of tolerance and respect."
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Eternal Haunted Summer - Pagan Songs and Tales
An ezine dedicated to Pagan poetry, short fiction and reviews.

Eternal Haunted Summer: Rebecca Buchanan
By Wolfen Moondaughter, Sequential Tart News, February 8, 2010
"ST: How and when did you find yourself on a pagan path?

RB: I started down this rather round-about path in college. I had been a devout Catholic all through childhood and into early adulthood — but the more I was exposed to history, women's studies and religious studies, the more I began to question that faith. Pogroms, crusades, the Inquisition, et cetera and so on. Plus the fact that I could never be a priest, which seemed horribly unfair.

Thanks to all those women's studies and religious studies (and mythology and literature) courses, I eventually discovered Goddess Spirituality. But I never really felt at home there, either; too much like "God in a skirt." So, I turned to my oldest love: mythology. I was very surprised to discover that people still believed in, worshipped, and experienced all those old Gods and Goddesses. It was a world-altering discovery.

See, folks: don't let your daughters get an education! It will only lead them astray!

ST: Tell us about your particular branch of paganism.

RB: I am a member of Neos Alexandria, a syncretic Greco-Egyptian group which takes the ancient city of Alexandria as its model. The original Alexandria, founded on the Egyptian shore of the Mediterranean, was a cosmopolitan city, rich in faith and culture and learning (famous library; ever heard of it?). I emphasize nature and the arts in my practice, so I am particularly devoted to Deities such as Artemis, Gaea, Helios, Selene, Eos, Hermes, Apollo and the Muses, and Hekate."
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Geoffrey Clarfield: 2500 years of Egyptomania
by Geoffrey Clarfield, National Post (blog), February 08, 2010
"It is most likely that Herodotus visited Egypt and interviewed Egyptian priests in their temples. His researches persuaded him that most Greek gods were borrowed from Egypt (exceptions being Poseidon, the Dioscuri, Hera, Hestia, Themis, the Graces and the Nereids). Having witnessed the festival of the Goddess Isis, he also mentions that the Greek custom of ritual cleansing before entering a sacred precinct after having sex was adopted from the Egyptians.

Herodotus and a growing number of later Greek, Hellenistic and Roman writers on things Egyptian could not read the hieroglyphics and papyrus manuscripts of the ancient polytheistic religion of the land of the Pharaohs. Thus, their understanding of Egyptian religion and thought was somewhat distorted. Nevertheless, they were so impressed by the order, magnitude and apparent wisdom of Egypt that — despite the originality of classical Greek culture — many Greeks assumed that their own brilliance had its origins in Egypt, thus giving birth to a tradition in Western thought that has never really died out, which assumes ancient Egypt to be the source of all science, wisdom and righteousness.
[...]
Renaissance luminaries such as Giordano Bruno, Marsilio Ficiono and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola believed that their author, Hermes Trismegistus, had been a wise Egyptian, connected in some way to the God Thoth, who had predicted the coming of Christ. (Although the great Renaissance literary scholar Isaac Casaubon definitively showed that the writings were not ancient, fragments of the Hermetic writings were found among the Nag Hammadi manuscripts in Egypt in 1948, suggesting that they were at least in existence at the end of the second century AD.) Despite the Renaissance rediscovery of Greek and Roman humanism, Renaissance scholars, like the Greeks before them, could not completely shake the belief that their civilization was somehow descended from northern Africa.
[...]
Kemetic Orthodoxy is a form of worship of the Egyptian Gods, which is now a recognized religion under the laws of the state of Iowa. Another official group worships in Wisconsin, while a third group that is largely African American worships the Gods in Brooklyn. When interviewed, one of the worshippers remarked that “I was drawn to the religion since the age of nine. I still remember hearing in Sunday school about how evil and bad the Egyptians were and I would be so angry at that!”"
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goddess and god

The Jewish People, Witch-hunter Murders, African Polygamy, Religion in Movies, Witches' Hat

Wow! this is really controversial stuff.
"A leading Israeli historian shatters the national myth of the Jewish exodus from the promised land."
The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand (Author), Yael Lotan (Translator)
Book Review: The Invention of the Jewish People
by Harry Clark, CounterPunch Feb 4, 2010
"Sand’s account of Judaism, from exclusive Israelite genealogy, to Hellenic proselytizing, to proselytizing and conversion on the margins of Christianity, in Arabia, North Africa, Spain, and among the Khazars and the Slavs, to defensive introversion amidst the final triumph of Christianity, is the interesting and compelling story of a religious minority subject to normal historical forces.

The contrary view of the unitary Jewish people expelled from its homeland, and wandering aloof in exile for two thousand years, until beginning its return in the late 19th c., is a reactionary myth which Zionism has deployed to conquer Palestine and compel support for it. The myth prevails unchecked today not only in Israel but worldwide. Nothing “has challenged the fundamental concepts that were formed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.” Advances in the study of nations and nationalism have not “affected the departments of the ‘History of the People of Israel’ (aka Jewish history) in Israeli universities.

Nor, amazingly, have they left their imprint on the ample output of Jewish studies departments in American or European universities.” The Zionist myth expresses a virulently racialized Jewish consciousness. In the canonical liberal view “anyone who argued that all Jews belong to a nation of alien origin would have been classified at once as an anti-Semite. Nowadays, anyone who dares to suggest that the people known in the world as Jews (as distinct from today’s Jewish Israelis) have never been, and are still not, a people or a nation is immediately denounced as a Jew-hater.”

Sand states in closing that “the mood at the end of this book. . .is more pessimistic than hopeful.” His final paragraph asks:

“In the final account, if it was possible to change the historical imaginary so profoundly, why not put forth a similarly lavish effort of the imagination to create a different tomorrow? If the nation’s history was mainly a dream, why not dream afresh, before it becomes a nightmare?”"
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Three held for E Cape witchcraft murder
by SAPA, Independent Online, South Africa, February 04 2010
"Three men were arrested on Thursday for allegedly beating a woman to death they accused of practising witchcraft, Eastern Cape police said.

The trio, aged between 21 and 28, also faced a charge of arson and another of pointing of a firearm.

They went to a homstead in Bizana on Tuesday and allegedly assaulted a 60-year-old woman they accused of witchcraft, said Captain Mlungisi Matidane.

She died of her wounds. Her husband escaped.

"The same suspects later went back to the same homestead and set alight two rondavels. The 11 occupants survived with minor injuries."

The trio was arrested on Thursday morning and expected to appear in the Bizana Magistrate's Court shortly.

In a separate incident, three men accused of killing 65-year-old Nokitani Tshemesi and her three granddaughters, appeared in the Elliotdale Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

They had suspected the woman of practising witchcraft, police said. Their bodies were found in their home in Ntsingizi village on Tuesday morning. They had been stabbed to death."
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Another take on Polygamy. Even with three wives he fathered a child outside of marriage!!

Union: Stop Zuma witch-hunt
by SAPA, News24, 2010-02-04
"Johannesburg - Critics of President Jacob Zuma are trying to re-engineer society into "one man and one woman for life", the Communication Workers' Union (CWU) said on Thursday.

"The media's obsession and interference at President Zuma's private life aims at re-engineering society to conform to the capitalist sex 'norm' of one man and one woman for life, thus denying the complexity of human sexuality," said the CWU.

Demanding that the media "stay out of the bedroom", they said if the media owners and opposition party leaders could not respect Zuma's privacy, they should declare their own partners and "throngs" of children.

"This puritanical witch-hunt against President Zuma waged by the bourgeois media and the opposition is a typical modern day version of Christian fundamentalist crusades against 'sin'."

"This witch-hunt directed towards President Zuma seeks to reinforce the idea in the public sphere that it is morally wrong for either President Zuma or women to be sexually intimate and impregnate each other outside the institution of marriage."

The union believed Zuma's private life was "none of our business".

Zuma had taken two days off to rest after confirming he fathered a child outside his three marriages and engagement.
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'Avatar' draws controversy from the Vatican
by Joe Cramer, The Villanovan (subscription), Feb, 4, 2010
"Rev. David Cregan, O.S.A., a professor in the theater department who holds his doctorate in drama, feels that the Vatican newspaper is extremely important in the function exemplified by its critique of “Avatar.”

“It can be helpful in leading people toward the kinds of artistic projects that will enrich their spiritual lives,” Cregan says.

This would apply not only to films with a particular influence over pop culture at any given moment, but also those which challenge or reinterpret ideas that may be crucial to the religion in general. Yet the newspaper has remained silent on recent religious-themed films, such as “The Book of Eli” and “Legion,” both of which deal with religious implications and iconic imagery in a much more blatant way than the allegorical “Avatar.”
[...]
As often occurs when popular entertainment attempts to address topical issues, questions are raised concerning its place and significance within the issue, as well as its effectiveness in addressing those questions.

Rev. Joseph Farrell, O.S.A., doesn’t see the naturalistic ideologies as necessarily in opposition with Catholic or Augustinian views.

“What I was reminded of was a passage in Book X of the Confessions of St. Augustine when he asks himself the question, ‘What am I loving when I love my God?’” Farrell says.“He goes on a search questioning nature and all created things and keeps getting the answer from them, ‘We are not your God.’ He concludes by saying, ‘They lifted up their mighty voices and cried, “He made us.” My questioning was my attentive spirit, and their reply, their beauty.’”
[...]
Ultimately, “Avatar” is yet another example of the tension that will always exist between art and ideology.
When a form of popular entertainment attempts to address highly topical and divisive issues, even in an allegorical manner, it is sure to incite some criticism. Despite this, it illustrates the importance of having relevant and intelligent arguments on both sides to maintain a well-informed balance for viewers.

“Art can create perspective,” Cregan says. “But art is not doctrine.”"
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South Lyon Cross Country--Witch's Hat Run
Apparently the race is named after a building, the Witches Hat Depot Museum
"The Witch's Hat Depot functions as a museum and the gathering place for the South Lyon Historical Society. It's distinctive roof line gives the building it's name: The Witch's Hat. The building was moved from the original location on East Lake Street to McHattie Park in 1976 as a bicentennial project and it now serves as the focal point for the historic village.

The interior of the depot has been preserved to show what a turn-of-the-century train depot would look like. The Historical Society uses the Depot and the nearby Freight Building to store historic documents. The Depot is an excellent resource for railroad buffs or those who simply want to know more about the history of South Lyon."
goddess and god

Imbolc, True Path?, Haitian Racisim, History of Sri Lanka

Musing on Imbolc and Brigid
by Gus diZerega, Beliefnet.com (blog), January 26, 2010
"Imbolc is one of the less intensely celebrated Sabbats, I think because it has fewer real world connections in our lives. In most places the coming Spring Equinox, Ostara, is well suited to its symbolism of the triumph of the sun and powers of growth and regeneration. Yule, our previous cross-quarter Sabbat, celebrated the Winter Solstice, and the wealth of meaning it carries symbolically and experientially. Both are Solar, and the sun 's cycles are the same everywhere in this hemisphere. Beltane to follow is, well, it's Beltane."
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Only one true path to God?
by Dino Wenino, letter to the editor Casper Star-Tribune Online, January 27, 2010
"Gary Wells writes that he will serve "The Lord!" and that Bible critics and nonbelievers "will have to answer for their actions." Answer to whom, Gary? And what Lord will he serve? Jewish, Christian or Muslim? Is there only one true religion? Is there only one true path to God? What about Hinduism or Buddhism? The Bahai Faith? Wicca, Paganism, the Rosicrucian Fellowship or any of the other religions of the world?"
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Haitian preachers speak of fire and brimstone after disastrous quake
By Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press, ‎Jan 26, 2010‎
"The vast majority of the people are Catholic, with a small minority of Protestants. But voodoo - a traditional religion involving dynamic interactions among the living, the dead and the world of spirits - is widely practised.

Even within the same family, some members can be avid church-goers who shun the island's home-grown religion while others practise voodoo - and some dabble in both.

These days, preachers are wandering through public squares, carrying Bibles and delivering sermons to the homeless residents of makeshift tents pieced together after the earthquake.
[...]
But what is he hearing from religious leaders? Why would such a terrible string of tragedies befall Haiti?

"These are our sins," he replies. "They are the sins of each Haitian on this Earth, which God has given us as our heritage."

The argument echoes the one made by Robertson, who cited a 19th-century pagan pact for having caused the country's misfortune.

But the more mainstream explanation goes something like this:

Haiti fell behind right from its independence when, after slaves revolted to gain their freedom, foreign countries isolated it. Its problems worsened under brutal and corrupt governments; and its geographic location on a fault line and hurricane zone ravaged what little infrastructure it had"

Misunderstanding of Haitian culture tied to decades of racism
By Hama Bbela, The BG News, January 27, 2010
"On Feb. 20, 1991, Bill O'Reilly's "Inside Edition" ran a show talking about Voodoo. He painted the picture of this island nation as held hostage by Voodoo priests, capable of turning people into zombies. O'Reilly even claimed Voodoo is used to keep people in economic slavery. A Haitian intellectual once complained, "Voodoo is certainly the most publicized, the most misunderstood, and most misrepresented aspect of Caribbean cultures. Too many people equate Voodoo with superstitions and all degrees of witchcraft and sorcery."

These sentiments show an attitude of indifference and ignorance toward old age African culture. When missionaries came to Africa, one of their missions was to save the Africans from what they considered pagan ways. They branded African ancestral worship as Satanic. African religions and religions of African slaves were viewed as systems of thought inextricably linked to evil. Voodoo evokes thoughts of the living dead, secret rituals, cannibalism, wild and drunken orgies and odious doings by incomprehensible black people.

Voodoo beliefs and rites come from Africa and contain hints of Catholicism. Like any other, the religion has things it considers malicious; yet to associate the religion itself with evil is disheartening. It's dehumanizing and insensitive to think a people can evolve a culture and form of religious thought which is fundamentally evil. The Judeo-Christian world has often used such claims to gain converts and marginalize followers of eastern and African religions. The early French colonizers of Haiti often described the religion as dangerous and began the history of bad press associated with Haiti. Early anthropologists used their studies of Voodoo to reinforce racist notions of black inferiority."
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This is a brief history of Sri Lanka, part 1.
Struggle for independence and freedom in education
by Gunapala Wickremaratne, Ceylon Daily News, Sri Lanka, 27 January 2010
"The most powerful factor that united the people or integrated them was the principle of the free but disciplined mind of the humans exposed to the Dhamma. According to Buddhism the mind is supreme. Man is his own master.

There is no benevolent god or power that sits on judgment over his destiny. Social cohesion of individuals is based on the freedom of thought. To force oneself to believe and to accept a thing without understanding is political and not spiritual or intellectual.

Buddha Dhamma is not a religion as commonly understood. It is a way of life based on ethical conduct, mental discipline and mindfulness or diligence; to be developed simultaneously in degrees, in accordance with the intellectual understanding of the individual. "

The fact that Buddhism does not fit the common definition of religion (as the worship of a deity) is one reason why I reject that definition. Understanding that religion is cosmology regardless of whether it involves gods, is simply more accurate. The deity centered definition of religion is a result of Christian bias in Western thought.
magic, wicca, herbs, witch, pagan

Greetings!

Hello everyone! This is officially my first post to this community, so I thought I would introduce myself. My pen/craft name is Marcus Briarstone, and I am a writer for a pagan informational website known as Craft Haven.

I am male, 26 years of age, and identify myself as an eclectic pagan. I do not follow a specific path as I find courage, strength, and harmony with most forms of earthen spirituality. I write to inform people of pagan history, celebrations, recipes, spells, and ultimately our common ground with many other faiths. It is through such that I find a sense of contentment; I drive myself to constantly update the website and provide accurate information through it, as well as my tweets on Twitter, and my posts here on Livejournal.

The website is a baby for now. There is a ton of work to do. My goal is to have it fully fleshed out with several hundred articles by the end of this summer--accurate and thought provoking articles.

I hope you all have a grand day. Thank you for reading this.

goddess and god

Harry Potter Museum Display, Italian Anti-crucifix Judge, Festival, Politics, History

A Magical Display At UAB: the science and medicine of Harry Potter.
By Christina Crowe, Black & White Birmingham's City Paper, January 21, 2010
"This small museum, housed on the third floor of the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Lister Hill Library, will host "Harry Potter's World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine," January 25 through March 5. Sponsored by the National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, the exhibition highlights the writings of 15th- and 16th-century physicians, scientists, and scholars that author J.K. Rowling studied to create the basis of magic in the seven Potter books.
[...]
The exhibit will attempt to illustrate how the magic taught at Rowling's Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is partially based on true Renaissance traditions that played a role in the development of Western science. These include alchemy (an ancient practice focused on attempting to turn base metals into gold, which created the basis for modern inorganic chemistry), astrology, and natural philosophy (the study of nature and physical science that predated modern natural sciences, such as physics)."
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Italian anti-crucifix judge loses office
The Associated Press, January 22, 2010
"ROME -- An official of the watchdog body for Italy's judiciary says a judge who refused to hear cases because there are crucifixes in the nation's courtrooms has been effectively barred from continuing in his job.

For years, Judge Luigi Tosti has insisted religious symbols have no place in courtrooms.

Nicola Mancino, vice president of the self-governing The Superior Council of Magistrates, told state TV Friday that Tosti has been taken of the professional rolls of Italian magistrates, essentially removing him from office.

Mancino says it's not up to the watchdog body to decide on the merits of Tosti's opposition to courtroom crucifixes. But Mancino said magistrates removed Tosti from office because he even refused to hear cases in a courtroom where the crucifix had been expressly removed to meet his objections. "
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Pagan Festival Prepares to Celebrate 25 Years
by Jamie Freeman, Examiner.com, Seattle Paganism Examiner, ‎Jan 17, 2010‎
"The Aquarian Tabernacle Church of Wicca, founded in 1979, decided to throw a little festival back in 1985 to celebrate the return of Spring. Now, 25 years later, the festival has grown to include more than 300 attendees from all around the world. The festival takes place at Ft. Flagler on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State over Easter weekend. 2010 will see the festival Thursday April 1st through Sunday April 4th.
[...]
Over the years, the festival has gained many traditions including: a blood-curdling adult right of passage in the bunkers; a row of Shrines to each God and Goddess present at the mysteries which is attended by a Priestess or Priest of that Godform; and a trek down to the sea to give honor and thanks to the Goddess Demeter as they did over 2000 years ago.

This year promises to be extra special, as each participant will get an opportunity to interact with a different Olympian on an intimate level. The schedule has been changed to include a "flash from the past" presentation with pictures and memories of previous years, and an 80's dance party.

The staples of the festival will still be present, including a variety of merchants, delicious and plentiful food including Vegan fare, a talent show, educational workshops, a healing shrine, and an auction of wonderful items. All proceeds support the church in their many ministries, including hospital and prison ministry. Funds are especially needed to complete the dining hall and gathering space at the church in Index, which threatens to be shut down if the project is not completed during the alloted time in the permits."
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Supreme Court, Corporations, and Nihilism
by Gus diZerega, Beliefnet.com (blog) January 23, 2010
"The Supreme Court's ruling allowing corporations to spend as much money as they want influencing elections is a horrifying example of how conservative sociopaths differ from any Pagan perspective, and why ALL religious people should do everything in their power to undermine and eventually reverse this insane ruling.
[...]
That "conservative" "justices" Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, Alito, and Kennedy (neither word really applies to these men) could make such a ruling demonstrates the moral nihilism that hides under the mask of all their babble about "original intent," "strict construction," "the constitution," and "morality." Conservatism today is the most subversively un-American doctrine this country has ever had to face since the arguments of the Confederacy.

Five disloyal so-called Americans have broken their oath of office and done all they can to destroy our increasingly fragile democracy. I hope justice will eventually prevail not only on this issue, but also on their standing in history."
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What objects say about our times
By Simon Schama, January 22 2010
"The answers we get from objects, then, depend crucially on the questions put to them. The danger is using them instrumentally, as validations of prior notions – derived from other sources – of what this or that period might have been like. Arriving at such a likeness of a time, the Germans called this Zeitgeistgeschichte – the revelation of the underlying spirit of the age. The historian-through-objects needs to be on guard against simply fitting found objects on to that template and then hailing them as evidence of its particular character. Objects interrogated with an open mind for ways in which they might do the opposite – namely, defy the classification of an “age” – can confound. When, in the late 1880s, the Hamburg art historian and iconographer Aby Warburg went to the fluttering drapery of Botticelli’s female figures in “La Primavera”, what he discovered was a survival not of rational but visceral, irrational Dionysian-pagan body language. If you had a mind you could do the same thing with, say, the famous carpet ornament of the early Celtic Bibles, which can as easily be read as a grafting of pagan fecundity fetishism on to the Bible as something designed from the beginning for Christian reverence.

Not that this means that historians can’t narrate from the evidence of images. I own up to dabbling in this myself. It’s just that such objects can’t be marshalled as unproblematic distillations of some past moment, as if fired in the alembic of time, without a cautionary awareness of the complications of the circumstances of their making. Pictures or decorative objects are the accumulated deposit of many social transactions, not all of which necessarily converge in an agreed use or meaning. An artist or artisan works to commission, but possibly his own muse, or his own compulsion to arm-wrestle his masters, alive or dead, can tempt him to override the conventions of the job. Hail Rembrandt, all praise to thee Picasso. Perhaps the finished result pleases the patron or the society for which it was made or perhaps not. If not – and we can all think of examples: Bernini’s clock towers for St Peter’s, Richard Serra’s tilted arc that bisected a downtown New York square – then that disconnect between social expectation and the work itself makes the finished thing atypical rather than typical of the cultural consensus it was summoned to embody."
goddess and god

Sicily, the Philippines, Egypt and Malaysia, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Tanzania.

Sicily trip brings history to life
by Karin Dienst, January 11, 2010
"Led by Princeton Professors Slobodan Curcic and Nino Luraghi, the overseas field trip from Oct. 29 to Nov. 8 was a required component of two courses offered this semester.
[...]
According to Luraghi, the David Magie '97 Class of 1897 Professor of Classics, Sicily offers an extraordinary destination for students of ancient and medieval cultures of the Mediterranean because of its central location. The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily was a "crossroads meeting place of different peoples, religions and cultures." From Antiquity to the Middle Ages, spanning 700 BCE to 1200 CE, the island successively was inhabited by Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Normans, generating a wealth of cultural artifacts.
[...]
While LaValle's main scholarly focus is literature, she was eager to learn more about art and archaeology and to discover what could be deciphered in the layers of history evident in many of the sites, and how ancient sites were put to new uses.

For instance, she recalled how a visit to the ancient stone quarry in Syracuse, known as the Latomie, made her think of the "disastrous Sicilian expedition by the Athenians as told by Thucydides," which resulted in the enslavement of thousands of soldiers there. At the site, she realized that after that brutal chapter in history, monks had created dwellings in the walls around the Latomie in the early Middle Ages. There even remained a pillar upon which a monk evidently had lived -- one of the early Christian ascetics known as a stylite.

"To think that a stylite had lived on the top of a pillar in the middle of the quarry that had heard the cries of thousands of Athenians die in slavery was an amazing thing for me to contemplate," said LaValle.

The visit also sparked a new angle of research for her, as LaValle has expanded her previous interest in the "reuse of pagan literature by early Christians" to examine the reuse of pagan architecture as well."
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Health views, news
by A.G ROMUALDEZ JR., M.D, Business Insight Malaya Inc, Jan 11, 2010
"Serious reflection on the state of Philippine politics during the present crucial election year will bear this out. Cornel West identifies among the threats to democracy in his country a "dogma of free-market fundamentalism" that "posits the unregulated and unfettered market as idol and fetish". It should be noted that not one of the credible political parties or candidates for our 2010 elections seriously questions this dogma and all of them pander to the commercial interests of those who fund their campaigns.

According to this dogma, the wealthiest and most powerful individuals and institutions are vested with magical powers of salvation and cannot be subject to democratic scrutiny concerning both the ethics of their business practices and their treatment of workers.
[...]
"Democracy Matters" also mentions "escalating authoritarianism" as another threat to democracy in America.

In the Philippines, authoritarianism has been ingrained in the Filipino psyche ever since the first child of our pagan ancestors was taken into a friars’ school and taught unquestioning assent to the dictates of a remote and foreign-based monolithic organization.
[...]
The fact is that the conspiracy between plutocratic elites and the religious power groups is legitimated in the most important legal documents of the Filipino people – the Constitution and the Revised Penal Code. The feigned debate between those who want to loosen economic restrictions and those who wish to maintain political limitations is simply an expression of both sides’ resistance to change a convenient status quo that also happens to be favor their business interests."
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Anti-Christian Violence Erupts in Egypt and Malaysia
by James Heiser, The New American, Monday, 11 January 2010
"In Egypt, where the Coptic Church celebrated Christmas on January 7 (following the old Julian and Coptic calendars), seven people were murdered following midnight Mass. According to press reports, riots then erupted during the funeral processions for six of the seven victims of the massacre. Six of the seven victims were Coptic Christians; the seventh victim was a Muslim.

Coptic Christians make up a mere 10 percent of the population of Egypt, and anti-Christian violence has long been a fact of life for the suffering minority. Attacks on the Coptic community are carried out with the slightest of provocations.
[...]
As in Egypt, Christians make up a small minority of the population of Malaysia: about nine percent. Unlike in countries where substantially larger Christian communities seem unwilling to assert their legal rights, Christians in Egypt and Malaysia are not prepared to just acquiesce to such discrimination and persecution, and they are receiving support from other Christians living under Muslim rule."
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To Know About Witch Gun, You Must Know About Witchcraft-Dr. Kabba
by Abdul Samba Brima, Awoko, ‎Jan 8, 2010‎
"The National President of Sierra Leone Indigenous Traditional Healers Union, Dr. Alhaji Suliaman Kabba, has stated that for one to operate witch gun, the person must know about witchcraft. He made the statement at his Calaba Town office in Freetown while explaining the dangers of witch gun and the number of witch gun confessions in late 2009. He said a person who operates witch gun would never be perceived by the ordinary eye adding that such people only carry out their evil acts when they are in an invisible state.
[...]
Dr. Kabba revealed that he had arrested many people with witch guns with the intention of destroying innocent lives. He said it was with that view that they established the union, adding that they were calling on the government to give them a backing in carrying out their work."
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This sounds very much like the Satanic ritual killing confessions we had in the US in the '80s. Which were all made up.
Preacher confesses to killing 70 people
by Haruna P. Mawa, The Observer, 11 January 2010
"A preacher in the northern Uganda district of Lira has confessed to 70 ritual killings, including his son.
Polino Angela, 50, formerly a witch-doctor based in Lira, said he was initiated into ritual murders in Kenya at a ceremony in which a 13-year-old boy was killed and his blood sprinkled on his (Angela’s) body. After this ritual, Angela was ordered by the healers to sacrifice his 10-year old boy, whom he killed.
[...]
He works as a coordinator, Ex-Witch doctor’s Foundatation, an NGO started by a Catholic priest in Lira District to persuade witchdoctors to abandon the evil practice. He says that up to 2,800 witch doctors have since abandoned the practice in Northern Uganda and other parts of the country.
[...]
Moses Binoga, head of the Police anti-Human Sacrifice Task Force, said they had on Friday opened a file for the accused in Amolatar District, were Angela is said to be living.
“We want to first ascertain the allegations and establish the facts, whether there is or no complainant against him,” Binoga said."
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MP says 'sorcery' holding her back
By Hussein Semdoe, Kilindi, The Citizen Daily, 11 January 2010
"Kilindi MP Beatrice Shelukindo has expressed fear that some people in her constituency could be playing some witchcraft antics against her.
[...]
Speaking at Saunyi and Mswaki villages late last week, Mrs Shelukindo appealed to the "witch doctors" to endorse her as she had done a lot to bring development in the area.
[...]
"Witchcraft has no advantage. We should change our mindset and concentrate on development and education," she lamented"
curiosity

Wicca

"Wicca" is a word popularized by Gerald Gardner when he used it to describe a form of Witchcraft characterized by: a feminine as well as masculine form of the divine, reverence for the natural world, and practices drawing from a long tradition of folk and ceremonial magic. He claimed that witchcraft was (and is) a religion in itself, rather than being the deviant superstitious practice that many scholars still consider it. (The claim that Witchcraft is really a religion is attributed Margaret Murray's work).

After he went public with his claims several other people (Sybil Leek, Robert Cochrane, Alex Sanders, to name the most famous) came forward claiming that they also had been initiated into Covens that were pre-Christian religious survivals. Because Gardner was being accepted many of them used the same vocabulary he did to substantiate their claims. None of these claims to a pre-Gardner Coven can be substantiated. None of them can be disproved either.

The 1800s were a popular time for the study of folklore and the romanticizing of pre-Christian Britain. I would argue that the Romantic period was the womb that birthed the Neo-Pagan movement. Romanticism created the "cultic milieu" that feeds the Neo-Age movement. Neo-Paganism differs from other New-Age movements by not being as concerned with a literal "New Age" (or even a linear view of time), and not being as concerned with issues of "light vs. dark".

"New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought"
by Wouter J. Hanegraaff.
"All New Age religion is characterized by a criticism of dualistic and reductionistic tendencies in (modern) western culture, as exemplified by (what is emically perceived as) dogmatic Christianity, on the one hand, and rationalistic/scientistic ideologies, on the other. It believes that there is a "third option" which rejects neither religion and spirituality nor science and rationality, but combines them in a higher synthesis. It claims that the two trends which have hitherto dominated western culture (dogmatic Christianity and an equally dogmatic rational/scientistic ideology) have been responsible for the current world crisis, and that the latter will only be resolved if and when this third option becomes dominant in society."


It is most likely (but not provable) that Gardner drew on the sources avaible in the cultic milieu to form religious practice that met his needs. In "The Great Wicca Hoax: Part I" and Part II Adrian Bott argues that one of Gardner's prime influences were his affair with his mistress Edith Grimes, later known as Dafo. Not only did Gardner's Wicca make their affair a holy rite but it fit in with Edith's belief that she was the reincarnation of a Witch.

"So it was that Wicca was born, as a sacred context within which two people who desired one another could consummate that love. By making it sacred, it was redeemed from being mere adultery. By assuming the role of once-persecuted witches, the importance of security was made manifest. The metaphysics of the cult drew directly from Thelemic ideology; a bountiful Goddess who demanded nothing in sacrifice, a potent male principle. Edith, formerly a witch only by reincarnation, acquired formal status as a Priestess."


Once Gardner went public with his work it became part of the cultic milieu that other people used to form their practices.

Because of the oaths of secrecy many of texts that can be traced definitively to Gardner were passed off as "traditional". When later practitioners began to break their oaths and publish the material (thinking it was "traditional" and therefore not subject to copyright) the deception was exposed.

The British Traditional Wicca position, that only those initiated in apostolic succession from someone who has an unfalsifiable claim to New Forest Coven is practicing Wicca, is with in their rights as a faith group.

But those of us without an apostolic succession can also make valid claims based on current evidence.

The claims of Eclectic Wiccans are based on ideas about the nature of religion and religious truth.

It is a matter of record that Wicca is a form of Witchcraft and that Gardner either made substantial changes or had very little "traditional" material to start with. He made no claim to be divinely inspired in his changes. His validity claim was based on links to pre-Christian paganism. If one rejects the claim to survival of pre-Christian religion (as a religion) than the only validity Wicca has as religion is the sincere faith of its practitioners. Gardner did not claim to have been divinely inspired. Faith in Wicca is not faith in Gardner. But all Wiccan religious practice can be traced to Gardner.

For most people who call themselves Wiccan "doing what Gardner did" means knowingly using material that can clearly be traced to Gardner but supplementing it with historical and folkloric information to create a living spiritual practice that can change with the needs of the practitioners, just as he did.

"Did Gardner Invent the Craft? History Closes on the Truth..."
by Leon Reed
One line Heselton finds in Gardner's writings, which I found extremely significant, was "The 'Book of Shadows' is not a Bible or Koran, but a personal 'cookbook' of spells that the individual witch has found to work. I am giving you my book to copy to get you started: it contains the spells and rituals that worked for me. As you gain in experience, add the successful spells that you have made up, and discard those that didn't work for you!"