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Dionysus mural called “satanic” and removed Manny Tejeda-Moreno By Manny Tejeda-Moreno
Category: WebSite News

Original Link: https://wildhunt.org/2019/03/dionysus-mural-called-satanic-and-removed.html 

 

LAKELAND, Fla. – On November 2, 2018, The Working Artists Studio Gallery unveiled a the Un-Murals project which aimed to “to promote quality works of Street Art in Lakeland and enhance the value of three urban areas, Downtown, Midtown and Dixieland.” The project was funded by the Lakeland Community Redevelopment Agency, the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority, the Citrus Connection (the mass transit service), and a number of private individual and corporate donors. Overall, 65 works of art were created by 43 professional artists and 22 student or emerging artists from the local area. The artwork was installed as “tapestries” in the target urban areas and the exhibit is expected to run through January 2020.

That is, the remaining exhibit will run through January 2020 because one image has been removed after complaints it was “satanic.” The artwork taken down from the project is a seven-by-nine foot (~2.5m by ~3m) painting called “The Fall of Dionysus” by artist Aaron Corbitt. The artwork was part of a series of five paintings depicting different Greek deities including Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades.

The full series had been installed at the south side of a building at 401 S. Florida Avenue in the Downtown section of Lakeland. Google captured the painting in December 2018.  The artwork faced a parking lot.

The Fall of Dionysus by Aaron Corbitt (pictured) [Courtesy]

Despite its discrete placement it still attracted the attention of a concerned citizen, and ultimately Mayor Bill Mutz according to Kevin Cook, Director of communications for the City of Lakeland.

The Lakeland Ledger reported that Lakeland resident Joel Vann criticized the image in a Facebook post,

“The best I could interpret from looking at it, was that it seemed confusing, dark and satanic like to me,” Vann wrote in response to Corbitt’s Facebook post. “In my opinion, you have many great pieces that are suitable for a public space — however this particular piece is too subjective [and] made for a gallery, not the busiest street in Lakeland.”

Subsequently Corbitt reported on March 23, 2019 on his Facebook site that the painting had been removed. He wrote “It is with a heavy heart that I’ve discovered my tapestry painting ‘the fall of Dionysus’ must be taken down due to complaints that it is “satanic.” I would like to publicly apologize for anyone who is offended by this piece, and also to state that never in my career would I intentionally insult or offend a religion or culture with my artwork.”

Corbitt described that the painting was far from “satanic.” Rather, he said “This painting was forged from love.” The intention behind the painting was a depiction of his personal struggle with alcohol abuse. “My intentions for this painting were strictly personal, dealing only with my abuse with alcohol that led me to a downward spiral that almost cost me everything, my friends, my family, my beautiful dear wife, and ultimately my own life.”

Three of the Corbitt “tapestries” in location [Courtesy]

Corbitt added his understanding of the modern issues inferred from the myths around Dionysus. He suggests that, “In today’s society the Dionysus myth is illuminated as manly, tough, courageous, but alcohol abuse is anything but that. This painting was salvation for me, the emotional impact was almost devastating to relive all the horror I’ve put myself and others through.”

Corbitt’s apology was met with quick responses of support on Facebook. Followers of the post condemned censorship and noted that he need not apologize for his artwork. Mutliple individuals wrote versions of “NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR A PIECE OF ART.” Corbitt was also praised for his vision and his work against his personal demons.

Even local clergy chimed in as shocked at the decision. One pastor of a Christian congregation, Mr. Timothy Sizemore, wrote, “Good grief! I am a pastor of a Christian congregation in Lakeland, Florida and this artwork looks fantastic. And now that I understand the story behind it I find it more impressive. In moments like these, I am embarrassed to identify as ‘Christian….’ If you ever want to come to our church to display your art and talk about how you channelled [sic] your life experience into your art, feel free to contact me at Beacon Hill Fellowship.”

Corbitt added that, “Anger cannot cleanse anger, or ignorance” and says he was also concerned that leaving the image up would result in vandalism. “It was a choice between leaving it up and waiting for it to get vann-dalized [sic], as was threatened by the detractors, or hang it somewhere else. I am a full time artist, gotta pick and choose my battles carefully!”

Although the tapestry was removed, it is not homeless. It is owned by Mr. David Collins of The Working Artist Studio/Gallery, the organization that sponsored the Un-Murals project.

Layla/Lilith and baby's
Category: WebSite News

As you know Layla or Lilith has been constantly considered evil BUT everything has evil intentions and nothing is completely evil. They mostly blame her for killing babys but really she doesn't kill them she is the one who gives them the Vampyre spirit so they become one of us (a Vampyre). That is how all human Vampyres are created by her by being born as Vampyre Kin - a human with a Vampyre Spirit or soul...

Today is Vampyrian TempleUVUP's anniversary
Category: WebSite News

Today is Vampyrian TempleUVUP's anniversary since 2003 - It is now 15 years old...

ARE CHRISTMAS TREES PAGAN? INSIDE THE ORIGINS OF THE EVERGREEN TRADITION BY KELLY WYNNE
Category: WebSite News

Original Link: https://www.newsweek.com/christmas-tree-origin-story-pagan-tradition-1254178

 

BY  

 

Christmas trees are widely associated with the Christian holiday, but their origins are far from the Christ-worshipping standards they represent today. Evergreens, plants that stay green year-round, have been celebrated in many cultures for hundreds of years but Americans were not always accepting of the tradition.

Christmas trees did begin as a pagan tradition as early as the fourth century C.E., according to ABC News. European pagans were largely responsible for dressing their homes with the branches of evergreen fir trees in order to bring color and light into their dull winters. But pagans weren’t the only people to do this. Romans also used the branches for decoration during the festival of Saturnalia, which took place from December 17 to December 23 in honor of the God Saturn.

Because of their pagan roots, American settlers were not quick to jump on the Christmas tree trend. German settlers were the first to introduce the indoor evergreen to the new country, but it didn’t go over smoothly, according to the History Channel.

The newly-settled Puritans were big supporters of Christmas, and wildly oppose the pagan influence. Early government officials, including William Bradford and Oliver Cromwell, tried to destroy new Christmas traditions of decorating, dismissing them as “heathen” and “pagan mockery." In 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts even made a law that celebrating Christmas was illegal. The only thing allowed was church attendance: no decorations, especially trees, should be seen.

 

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Whether or not that’s the real reason for the spark of religious interest in the evergreens, the German community began to accept both trees and formal Christmas decorations in the 17th century. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century Americans found acceptance for the once pagan symbol in the Christmas holiday.So how did Americans evolve into Christmas tree fanatics? There’s no clear answer, but a few theories stand. One claims an evergreen was chopped down in anger in the eighth century C.E. by English Benedictine monk Boniface when he saw an evergreen being used in a pagan ritual. This version claims the tree’s fall as a pagan symbol turned it into a declaration of Christianity. The tree was then seen as a triangular symbol of the Holy Trinity.

Now, many argue the Christmas tree has even lost its roots in Christianity, much like it has lost its roots in pagan celebration. The Christmas holiday has evolved to include other religions and retail celebrations.

 

Pagan parallels of Jesus Christ By Jaime Licauco
Category: WebSite News

Original Link: https://www.pressreader.com/philippines/philippine-daily-inquirer/20181211/282084867888439 

 

By: Jaime Licauco

 

Most Christians do not bother to trace the origins of their religion, much less their beliefs and rituals. If they do, they might be in for the shock of their lives. This column is not for people who are satisfied with what Church officials tell them. As the saying goes, “Let sleeping dogs lie.” Rather, this is for those who are intellectually curious and discontented. The central event in the celebration of Christmas is, of course, the birth and life of Jesus Christ, considered a great prophet by Muslims, but as God by his followers.

 

Christians, especially Catholics, perhaps, have been led to believe that the story of Jesus, his birth, death and resurrection is unique, and that there is no other like him. I believed so myself, since I grew up in a Catholic family and studied in a Catholic school from elementary to college. I read only books with the imprimatur or approval of the church, until my hunger for knowledge emboldened me to venture outside my intellectual comfort zone, and discover how shortsighted my religious education had been. One of the things I discovered is that the story of Jesus Christ is not at all unique, that it could have been copied from some much older accounts of dying and resurrection of gods in ancient pagan religions. In fact, there are more than a dozen pagan gods whose stories seem to parallel Jesus’ life and death, although they preceded Christ by hundreds, or even thousands, of years.

 

Myths

 

At the heart of these teachings were myths concerning a dying and resurrecting god-man or demigod, who was known by many different names. In Egypt he was Osiris; in Greece, Dionysus; in Asia Minor, Attis; in Syria, Adonis; in Italy, Bacchus; in Persia, Mithras.

Let us take a closer look at the parallelisms.

 

1) Tammuz (2,000 B.C.) was a Mesopotamian god of fertility. His father was the Sumerian God Enki and his consort the goddess Inanna (Ishtar). March and April mark the death of Tammuz. Tammuz died at the hands of Inanna, but she eventually brought him back to life. He died to save people from starvation and death. Like Jesus, Tammuz was called a shepherd. He died during the summer solstice but lived again in winter. He spent half a year in the underworld and the other half among the living. 

2) Osiris (2,500 B.C.) was the most important god of ancient Egypt. His father was God and his mother a mortal virgin. He was born in a cave on Dec. 25, before three shepherds. He died at Easter time for the sins of the world. He descended into the underworld, and on the third day rose from the dead. His followers await his return as judge during the Last Days. According to noted Egyptologist E.A. Wallis Budge in “Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection”: “The central figure of the ancient Egyptian religion was Osiris, and the chief fundamentals of his cult is the belief in his divinity, death, resurrection and absolute control of the bodies and souls of men.”

3) Attis (1,200 B.C.) was born on Dec. 25. His mother was the virgin Nana. He was slain by a boar, but other stories say he was crucified on a tree from which his blood ran down “to redeem the earth.” His grave was found empty. He resurrected on March 25. 

4) Mithra (or Mithras, 1,200 B.C.) was born of a virgin on Dec. 25, had 12 disciples and performed miracles. He died and then resurrected after three days. His day of worship is Sunday. The cult held many secret rituals. The cult of Mithra was widespread in ancient times.

 

God and man

 

5) Jesus Christ (325 A.D., the date of the First Council of Nicea, where the Christian church declared him to be both God and man). Jesus’ father was God and his mother a mortal virgin. He was born on Dec. 25 in a cowshed before three shepherds. He performed miracles and was crucified, and then descended into the underworld. On the third day he rose from the dead. His death and resurrection are celebrated by bread and wine. His followers await his promised return.

When the early Church fathers learned of the much earlier stories of the pagan dying and resurrecting gods, which were similar to that of Jesus Christ, they blamed the devil for the “deception.” Tertullian, a prominent Christian historian and apologist, declared that “the devil had plagiarized Christianity by anticipation in order to lead people astray.” The devil simply copied his life in advance and created the myth of Osiris, Mithras, etc. What could be more absurd than that? Present-day Christian apologists argue that the similarities between the story of Jesus Christ and the pagan gods are superficial. They maintain the uniqueness of the story of the Christ, so the controversy continues to this day.

 

The controversy has revived the old question of whether Jesus really lived on earth, or was merely a myth, because there is hardly any mention of his existence outside the four canonical gospels. Another view is that Jesus was really just a creation of the Flavian Emperors Titus Vespasian and Domitian to counter Jewish militarism. How could such a man of miracles be ignored by ancient contemporary historians?

 

In contrast, Buddha, who lived some 500 years before Jesus, had a complete personal biography attested to by historians. Was Jesus just a myth created by early Christian gospel writers, or was he a real historical individual who lived among us 2,000 years ago? I believe what the spirit entity called Seth, whom Jane Roberts channeled in the ’70s, said: “Jesus was really a myth who became a reality in your world.” Egyptian god Osiris was born in a cave on Dec. 25, before three shepherds

Dark Witch: Working in the Shadows
Category: WebSite News

Original Link: https://moodymoons.com/2015/11/10/dark-witch-working-in-the-shadows/ 

 

 

The theme this week is light and darkness.

First, let’s discuss what “dark” or “black” means in the craft, and what it doesn’t.

We’ll start by talking about what it isn’t, or what misconceptions are often associated with it, and why it sometimes makes even the most seasoned practitioner uncomfortable.

What it isn’t, is evil.

Or at least, not the way most people think of evil.

Evil is a Western monotheistic concept. In Judaeo-Christian philosophy, there is good, and there is evil. One is “right” and one is “wrong.” One is wicked, one is pure. There is no gray. Things or concepts are either one, or they are the other.

Let me stress that there’s nothing wrong with seeing the world this way—–but it isn’t the only way.

Broadly speaking, in the craft, and most especially in the realm of Wiccan philosophy, there isn’t so much “evil” and “good” as there are opposites. In the world of opposites, one opposing force does not exist without the other.

Without darkness, there cannot be light.

From a purely scientific perspective, “coldness” does not exist at all—–it only describes the absence of heat.

There is no need to qualify these things with morality. They are simply forces of nature.

Fire is a force of nature. It can be utterly wicked, blindly destroying anything in its path. But it also sustains life, providing warmth in the bitter cold of an otherwise absolute-zero universe.

From this perspective, “light” and “dark” don’t have moral qualities any more than “wet” and “dry.”

This does not mean we go around willy-nilly behaving any way our emotions pull us just because we feel like it.

It simply means we are guided by the effect we have on reality rather than instructed directly by the laws of religious doctrine.

For the practitioner of witchcraft, there aren’t so much “punishments” and “rewards” as there are natural consequences. Everything you do, mundane or magical, sets these natural consequences into motion. They will come to fruition one way or the other. No amount of prayer or forgiveness will help you escape them anymore than prayer and forgiveness halts ripples on the water after you skip a rock across a still lake.

Newton’s famous Third Law eloquently states: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

This concept is both scientific, and spiritual.

(This might be a good time to point out that far from being in contrast with religion, all scientific concepts are also spiritual. And by “science,” I don’t mean kooky fluff bunny soft science, I mean real-deal hard science you’d find in any college biology, physics or chemistry textbook. If those things don’t make you believe in a higher order, I’m not sure what will.)

If you hex someone, you essentially hex yourself along with them. This is sometimes called “the boomerang effect.” It’s why most people decide to approach this form of ritual with extraordinary caution. A sensible person rarely finds the consequences worth the satisfaction of revenge.

We tend to think of our “magical” lives as somehow separate from our “mundane” lives, but really, all aspects of life are spiritual, and these principles apply equally.

It always amazes me how some people self-righteously declare dark magic evil, all the while going around making their own “witchcraft” in a secular way.

You don’t have to hex someone to experience serious spiritual consequences for wishing them ill.

If you go about saying nasty things about your husband’s ex-wife, you send out a negative energy that will come back to you. Usually, this kind of behavior says more about you to others than the person you are slandering, and so you are essentially slandering yourself. Justifying this behavior by saying she’s done X, Y or Z to you will not spare you from the spiritual consequences any more than justifying a revenge spell with similar logic will spare you from the consequences of hexing someone.

Of course, hexing is not the only form of shadow magic. It’s just the most taboo. The following types of spells also fall under the category of “negative” magic. Note that by “negative,” we are not referring to the concept of “bad” or “evil.” Negative merely describes the driving away of someone or something rather than the drawing to.

*Exorcism
*Weight loss spells
*Banishing dark energy
*Banishing a person
*Protection spells
*Stop gossip spells
*Cleansing rituals

Divination also falls under this category. It is sometimes literally referred to as “peering into the darkness.”

Note that we don’t think of these things as “bad” or “evil.” But that doesn’t mean they don’t have consequences, for better or worse.

 

Now, let’s talk about “white magic,” and why it isn’t any more “good” than dark magic is evil.

While those outside the practice often associate “white magic” with “good, purity and light,” we as practitioners are often guilty of this oversimplification as well.

Just as is the case with “dark” or “black” magic, it is a fallacy to color the concept of white magic with the pen of morality.

Before we get into that, though, let’s look at the kind of spells we think of as falling under the category of “white” or “positive” magic. Again, by “positive” magic, we don’t mean “good,” we mean to draw towards us as opposed to drive away. This concept has no more moral implications than the attraction/repulsion behavior of ordinary magnets.

*healing spells
*baby blessings
*marital rites
*love spells
*beauty and attraction spells

Many new practitioners of modern witchcraft think of these types of spells as safe, good, even angelic. But those with experience (or unique wisdom—-not me, for sure!) recognize that it isn’t about “goodness” and these types of spells are equally fraught with unknown consequence.

Love spells are frequently noted for their unforeseen, unintended consequences. These spells are rarely cast in malice. On the contrary, they are usually undertaken in a desperate attempt to redirect unrequited love. In fact, learning to cast a love spell is often the very thing that draws people to witchcraft, and they are typically disappointed to be swiftly dissuaded by the wise old hand of the craft. (Or swindled by a charlatan. Either way, beware!)

Of course we want to be loved by those we are attracted to. There’s nothing wrong with this. It is not “evil” or “bad.” Even trying to force the issue with a love spell is not inherently “bad.” After all, people use all kinds of mundane tactics to attract a love interest. Makeup, false sweetness, feigning mutual interest in order to seem compatible—-none of these things are any more “dark” in nature than casting a love spell, but we can clearly see they carry with them a similar risk of fallout when the ruse becomes clear.

We may desperately want someone to be attracted to us, but we may not be so attracted to them if they turn into a clingy mess. Or worse, a psycho stalker. In the heat of the chase, most people don’t have the presence of mind to understand that the chase is really what’s driving their infatuation. Once it’s over, so is everything else.

(And although rarely funny to the direct participants, these consequences are often quite amusing to the outside onlooker. Never was the hilarity of these notorious repercussions better exemplified than by the great William Shakespeare himself in his brilliant comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.)

This tale of “be careful what you wish for” is almost folklore in witchcraft. But sometimes it doesn’t manifest that way. Maybe you cast a love spell and, by attempting to control another person’s free will, you consequently end up in a relationship with someone who is controlling you.

And it’s not the only example in what we call “white magic.”

Beauty spells often cultivate vanity.

Marriage rites and baby blessings are the staple of any pagan officiant, but any married person or parent knows that marriage and babies have serious consequences.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t bless babies, or perform marriage ceremonies, or ever want to make ourselves feel beautiful in a magical way.

Sometimes, it’s all worth it. Sometimes it works out for the best. Just like life. It’s all full of risks.

I can already hear the naysayers crying, “Well, that’s just it! That’s why all magic is bad, and evil, and we should avoid it all together! Stay away from it and spare yourself!”

To that I would point out once more that magical behavior has no more serious consequences than mundane behavior. Everything you do is essentially some form of magic. If you live your life in service to others, it has the “magical” effect of drawing happiness to you, and goodwill from others. If you abuse those around you, take without giving back, and live a life that generally revolves around making others miserable, it has the “magical” effect of making you miserable.

Of course, most people, being imperfect, do a little of both.

In life, we must live our day-to-day experience with a series of actions. Appreciating that you will “be paid” for your actions, whether magical or mundane, does not stop you from falling in love, or baking a cake. To be perfectly still is to be dead. The fact that anything you do, from getting out of bed in the morning to firing an insubordinate employee, has consequences, ought not paralyze a healthy person into fearing any action at all—and it ought not to paralyze the practitioner of witchcraft, either.

Knowing that there are karmic consequences for your behavior either way guides the spiritually-minded person in mundane activities, and it guides practitioner of magic as well.

 

The Tea Drinking Witches of Flint by Star Bustamonte
Category: WebSite News

Original Link: https://wildhunt.org/2018/11/the-tea-drinking-witches-of-flint.html

By Star Bustamonte
 
 
FLINT, Mich. — In October, the Witches Tea Flint hosted not one but two successful events to raise money for Domestic Violence Awareness in October. Witches Tea Flint is organized by Davonna, Amaunet, and Viki, all from the Greater Flint Area. Originally planned as a single event, the first tea event sold out in just eleven days: so they added a second event that sold out as well. Partnering with their local YWCA of the Greater Flint Area,  the two Witch Tea Flint events and managed to raise over $800.  The events were so well-received; they have decided to do more events.
 
They have three new events scheduled between the end of November and the middle of December:

 

  • Tea and Tarot Bingo – November 30 at Good Beans Café, 6pm – 8PM,  $15 tickets available through Paypal.Me/WitchesTeaFlint to bring awareness for ASPCA’s Adopt a Senior Dog Month.

 

  • Spirits of Yule Fair – December 15, 11AM – 3PM, at VFW Post 822 in Flint (5065 S Saginaw Rd), a witchy shopping extravaganza with vendors throughout the Flint area. Admission is free with a donation to the Humane Society of Genesee County.

 

  • Spirits of Yule Tea – December 15, 6PM – 9PM also at VFW Post 822.  Tickets are available through Paypal.Me/WitchesTeaFlint and this event benefits LGBTQ+ charities in the community: Wellness Services, the Vanessa Goldman scholarship, and the Ellen Bommarito Book Fund.
  •  

 

When asked what prompted the creation of the first set of events, Davonna said, “There was a Facebook conversation about wanting to have a Witchy Tea Party in Flint.  It turned the way things usually do with ‘well, someone should… instead of someone doing… I did not want to let an opportunity pass, so I used my event and media experience to launch.” In looking for sponsors Davonna told us, “I came to Viki and told her some of my idea and how a tea party needs tea.  She is the best tea-maker and herbalist that I know. I asked her what she would charge me to use her tea, but then Spirit starts yelling at me to be open and ask her to partner. I asked, she said yes and she added our friend, Amaunet. We all felt and witnessed the huge need for outreach and support, not only for those who identify as witches, but for the local residents as well.  We saw how much good we could do for the community and have fun while doing it. We work really well together.”

 

Viki is the co-founder of Mid-Michigan Pagan Alliance, which aims to network with the pagan community, owner and proprietor of Wildcrafters Den, as well as the High Priestess of the Coven of the Phoenix Fire with members all over the state. Amaunet has been a witch since 1984, focuses primarily on ancient Egyptian deities, but recently began devotion to Hecate under the mentorship of Viki.  Davonna explains she is ¼ Cherokee, in lifelong Shamanic training, and the owner of Davonna’s Bayou Grace, and has worked in media for the last 25 years and currently works in the recovery community of Flint. They are also working together to build an affordable Pagan-based education through Phoenix Fire Academy and have launched Kindred at the Crossroads, which is dedicated to bringing unity in the Flint Pagan Community.

 

The events have enjoyed widespread support from a variety folks both inside and outside of the Pagan community as evidenced by sponsors like the YWCA. Lavonna added, “Local authors and businesses have shown tremendous support like the Good Beans Café who jumped at the idea to hold space for our event.  The support has been overwhelming, the organizers reported.  As more organizations in the area learn about us, we only see that support growing.  We have been able to reach many witches in the community who had no mutual friends with any of us and give them a community.”

While the organizers of Witches Tea Flint make a point of emphasizing that they are not formally affiliated with any interfaith or faith-based organization for these events, collectively they said, “It is not just our love for being witches that guides us, but a sense of activism for our faith and for the community. We are connecting our witchy brothers and sisters to services that are available to everyone in the community. We are making connections and being there for our community at large, witches and witch-friendly.  We are doing these things on our own, as witches, to show what you can do as a witches and as good humans.”

There Are Now More Practicing Witches In The U.S. Than Ever Before Christina Marfice
Category: WebSite News

Original Link: https://www.scarymommy.com/witches-rising-numbers/

By Christina Marfice

 

 

Witches are rising in numbers in the U.S., because maybe if we all just learn spells we can fix this mess Considering, you know, the general state of things, this news should come as no surprise. According to a number of surveys conducted in the last few decades, the number of witches in the U.S. has been steadily rising, and is now at an all-time high. It makes sense, because things are so awful, why wouldn’t we all just start trying to learn spells and stuff? 

 

Researchers say more and more Americans, particularly millennials, are turning away from traditionally dominant religions like Christianity. A study conducted in 1990 showed there were probably around 8,000 practicing witches nationwide at that time. Recent studies looking at practicing Wiccans and Pagans indicate there could be as many as 1.5 million in the U.S. now. That officially eclipses Presbyterians, who number about 1.4 million. To be clear, we are talking about the actual Wiccan and Pagan religions, which have nothing to do with riding broomsticks or, generally, cauldrons, spells, black cats and warty noses, like the witches of the pop culture vernacular. Think tarot cards, crystals and a strong connection with nature. 

 

“It makes sense that witchcraft and the occult would rise as society becomes increasingly postmodern,” religion writer Julie Roys told The Christian Post last month. “The rejection of Christianity has left a void that people, as inherently spiritual beings, will seek to fill. Plus, Wicca has effectively repackaged witchcraft for millennial consumption. No longer is witchcraft and paganism satanic and demonic, it’s a ‘pre-Christian tradition’ that promotes ‘free thought’ and ‘understanding of earth and nature.”  

This doesn’t, by any means, indicate that witches are outnumbering Christians in the U.S. — the Pew Research Center still finds that 70 percent of the country’s religious population is Christian. But witchy aesthetics are definitely on trend. Plus, the world is kind of terrible right now and it’s not like mainstream religion (or anything) is fixing it. Who can blame people for trying out something new?

And the rise in witch numbers is already doing good things for our collective morale as we navigate these trying times. Remember when the witches banded together to cast hexes on Brett Kavanaugh during his Senate confirmation? That’s something we can all get behind.

 

 

Pagan Presence at the Parliament of the World’s Religions by Sean McShee
Category: WebSite News

Original Link: https://wildhunt.org/2018/11/pagan-presence-at-the-parliament-of-the-worlds-religions.html

By Sean McShee

 

TORONTO — From Nov. 1 through Nov. 7, the Parliament of the World’s Religions took place in Toronto, Ontario. Organizers estimated that 10,000 people from 80 countries would attend the event in Canada. The Parliament may be the largest interfaith event in the world.

Before the Parliament began, the Wild Hunt spoke with four Pagans about interfaith work and the Parliament. Three went to the Parliament. One had to cancel at the last minute.

Rev. Jennifer Bennett represented Covenant of the Goddess at the Parliament. Felicity Grove, also of Covenant of the Goddess, had planned on going to the Toronto conference but was unable to do so.

 

Jennifer Bennett [Courtesy]

Rev. Jerrie Hildebrand has attended three Parliaments prior to the Toronto conference. President of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, Hildebrand is also a minister at Circle Sanctuary. Ethan Stark represented Heathens Against Hate (HAH). While HAH is an “independent branch of the Troth,” people can join HAH without becoming a Troth member.

 

 

Ethan Stark [Courtesy]

Interfaith work

Bennett sits on her local interfaith council. Local Christian churches often ask her to speak at their services. Bennett also writes for her local paper’s “Faith Matters” section.

Grove identified five key points of Pagan interfaith work. First, Pagans should have “a seat at the interfaith table.” Second, Pagans can provide a Pagan perspective, such as non-duality, to solving common problems. Third, Pagans can provide a “a different spiritual experience.” Fourth, Pagans doing interfaith work challenges negative stereotypes about Pagans. Five, interfaith work provides Pagans with a chance to model core Pagan values.

According to Hildebrand, interfaith work happens when people of many traditions cooperate. Working together for social justice moves people beyond labels.

Pagans at the Parliament

Hildebrand reported that she has not found any anti-Pagan hostility at any of the three Parliaments she attended. Bennett also found no anti-Pagan bias at a previous Parliament. She found only “openness, genuine curiosity and a positive community spirit.”

Fifteen spiritual traditions had multiple sessions at the Parliament. The Pagan tradition had 16 sessions. In one of these 16 sessions, Alice Walker narrated a film, “”Yemanja: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil.

Main themes of the Parliament

Hildebrand said that the Parliament had four main themes. One theme involved moral and spiritual perspectives on climate change. A second theme focused on the generational transfer of spiritual knowledge and experience. The third theme examined moral and spiritual perspectives about the rights of indigenous peoples. The fourth theme concerned ways to change a violent and hate-filled world into a peaceful one.

According to Hildebrand, the following Pagans made presentations at the Parliament: Andras Corban Arthen, Selena Fox, Patrick McCollum, Don Lewis, Phyllis Curott, Angie Buchanan, Dennis Carpenter, and Jake Bradley among others.

Heathens Against Hate

According to Stark, Heathens Against Hate (HAH) advocates for inclusive Heathen practices, using education and community initiatives to challenge hate and bigotry among Heathens.

HAH staffed the Alliance for Inclusive Heathenry booth. This booth provided information on other inclusive Heathen groups. HAH took part in a panel discussion titled “Striving to save a Religious Identity from Extremists.”

White supremacy and misogyny occur in other traditions besides Heathenry. Stark has found those elements in some Slavic Pagan beliefs and sometimes in Hellenic Reconstructionism. Stark said, “The conscious and unconscious bigotry and misogyny is on an individual level.” He cautioned that history and location may make certain traditions vulnerable to white supremacy and misogyny. The subtle nature of biased beliefs and practices pose a great challenge.

All spiritual traditions have tendencies towards bias. “Heathenry, like other reconstructionist faiths, relies on correct practice based on sourced written and archaeological records.” Those records reflect a lost and fragmented tradition. This sometimes means relying on personal interpretation. This subjective interpretation can allow “ignorant or willful bigotry” to corrupt the tradition.

Stark sees no problem if someone feels their ancestry and heritage connects them to the gods. When they claim that that connection has greater validity than other claims, it reflects bias. Stark stressed, “This idea of genetic lineage being not only paramount, but necessary for Heathen worship makes it bigoted.”

Attendance at the Parliament provided HAH an opportunity to represent the Heathen faith. HAH used this opportunity to challenge negative stereotypes about Pagans in general and Heathens in particular.

Many people conflate Heathen images with white supremacist iconography. Stark said that heathen tattoos or jewelry have elicited reactions ranging from “glares to outright accusations.”

Like other Pagan faiths, Heathenry is relatively unknown. Stark cautioned, “Our [Heathen] symbols are used by hate groups when they rally, protest, and commit violence. Non-pagan/non-Heathen audiences are likely to see this first and foremost, prior to any knowledge of Heathenry.” He stressed that Heathens must first explain what Heathenry is, before explaining what it is not.

According to Stark, this effort is occurring in other parts of the world. The Troth’s International Relations and Exchange Program hosted FrithForge in Germany last year. This international conference of Heathen representatives hosted workshops, lectures, and community worship services. HAH has compiled a list of inclusive Heathen groups throughout the world. Many inclusive Heathen groups “participated in FrithForge and have openly denounced extremism.”

“Heathens Against Hate strives to provide a beacon for those wishing to know the northern gods, honor the ancestors, and revel in a strong spiritual community without prejudice.” Stark explained, “We do so through education, reformation of former extremists, and community initiatives.” Heathens Against Hate welcomes all who welcome all.

For those who were unable to attend the Parliament, some sessions are now available online such as a panel conversation on “Reclaiming the Indigenous Ethnic Religions of Europe” with Andras Corban Arthen, Inija Trinkūnienė and Vlassis G. Rassias, board members of the European Congress of Ethnic Religions.

 

Interview with the Vampyres by Don Webb
Category: WebSite News

Original Link: https://xeper.org/pub/pub_dw_vampyres.html

by Don Webb

 

It is my good fortune to have met two of the most elegant creatures who walk the face of the earth: the Grand Masters of the Order of the Vampyre of the Temple of Set.

You can bet I had a hard time finding out about the mysterious Temple of Set—I had to phone San Francisco, talk with directory assistance, and get their phone number. Recently when the moon was full and the mist floated languidly I met with them in a secret place for this interview. I won’t try and describe the flashing eyes of Ms. Lilith Aquino or the hypnotic gaze of Mr. Robertt Neilly—some things words can not do...

1. What is the relationship of your organization to the Temple of Set?

RN: The Order of the Vampyre is like a Standing Committee of the Temple of Set. In this respect, and as a special interest group, its primary focus is the exploration of ‘things Vampyric’. In the Order of the Vampyre, Setians develop in all ways, but do so under the auspices of a Vampyric specialty. The many results of the work they do, stemming as it does from and of the Order, may be shared with the entire membership of the Temple, or perhaps reach a more selective audience.

LA: You could compare the various Orders within the Temple to the graduate studies department of a university. Once our initiates get a basic grounding in the general fields of knowledge and ability, they then can ‘specialize’ in a specific area or areas that they are particularly interested in and drawn to. But always the various Orders remain a part of and within the Temple of Set and its mandate and policies.

2. Why do you use the archaic spelling, ‘Vampyre?’

RN: The term ‘Vampyre’ has many special connotations for us. For example, the spelling has the flavour of ‘Olde English’. But on a deeper level, it represents a more ancient and primal form or focus. It speaks to us of the nobility of this much maligned creature. A Vampyre is an ancient Being. It—or those embracing and engendering its qualities—are bringing to life (again) the timelessness and agelessness of an archetypal creature which I feel lived prior to man’s emergence, lives even now, and will survive man’s (spiritual) decay. A Vampire is the popularized, hollywood version of the ‘undead’ (read ‘unthinking’ or ‘unaware’) and static creature which seems to exist only to gratify its physical needs; perhaps physical immortality. The ‘Vampyre’, conversely, is a Living, Awakened creature which seeks to immortalize its core Self or soul. If, for the sake of argument, one adopts as a given that both kinds of creatures exist, then clear differences may be seen. The ‘Vampire’ exists at an instinctual level only, and would seem to live a rather tragic existence. The ‘Vampyre’ however, via initiatory work, has ‘quickened’ her soul and in doing so acquired a host of other qualities along the way.

3. Why is the Vampire becoming such an important culture hero—we see him in films, books, comics, etc. at an ever growing rate?

RN: Beyond the erotic, the vampire, or those possessing Vampyric qualities, is a hero because it is s/he who makes and administers her/his own Laws. Vampyres are without masters. Their ethical standards, while embracing time-honoured traditions, practices, and the laws of the land, extend beyond the normal veils of society. Life, death, and all states of existence in between, are being constantly redefined by the Vampyre. It’s obvious that many people could find this element attractive. The vampire is a perfect response to any authority figure who is uninspired, unintelligent, and generally unmoving. It may be argued that many traditional figures in authority—whether family, law, or as part of a company’s hierarchical structure—are not this way. To those who are capable of sustaining their Balance, the Vampyre tips his cowl! To the others, it poses a dilemma and threat. And the threat emanates in their minds, not in the Vampyre’s. The vampire is in control. Most of us admire this fact if for no other reason than that for us, some degree of effort is required, from time to time, to maintain control! Yet the vampyre simply, and elegantly, dances around issues of self-control. If he loses his temper, it is a conscious act. If the vampire decides to, she can experience the depths of emotions; or choose to ignore them unilaterally. If for no other reason, the Vampyre is a cult(ure) hero because it brazenly makes a statement like this: “Existence for me has become meaningful. It is my Will that I shall survive the physical inactivity of what we know as death. I am Alive now, and will continue to be Alive while exploring the arenas which are now, or will be, within my grasp.” Finally, in the vampire there exists power... or at least the illusion of power. Many will not recognize, nor care, whether the power is illusory.

LA: I think a very strong reason, especially in these times, is the power that the Vampyre has over his/her own life and destiny. Many people feel helpless and frustrated by the state of the world, and their lives in particular, and not in control of most things. The Vampyre is always in control, uses the powers that he/she possesses to benefit themselves, and in some cases, those that he/she cares for. There is also a strong element of someone that is very ‘different’ from the mainstream not only triumphing over it, but in a rather spectacular and satisfying way. Obviously, one of the most compelling attractions is the very erotic and sensual, sexual aspect of this Being. The anticipation and titillation of the danger, as well as the actual seduction and interaction between Vampyre and admirer. I don’t like to use the word victim, since it denotes a lower, less advanced level of creature who preys on others, rather than the mutual and beneficial exchange of energy, knowledge, and delicious erotic delights that occurs between the higher Being we of the Order of the Vampyre espouse, and his or her admirer/lover/mate etc. Read Elaine Bergstrom’s novel Shattered Glass to get an idea of the type of Vampyre we refer to. In my opinion she has a real grasp and understanding of the concept of the Vampyric Essence, although she probably has no idea that she does! Her family of Vampyres, headed by the Vampyre Stefan Austra, is very close to the Order of the Vampyre’s perception of this Essence. As for the next great on-screen Vampyre, the dark intensity of Sam Neil, who did such a magnificent portrayal of Damien Thorn in the moving Final Conflict, is at once erotic and elegantly noble, with a touch of danger. A compelling combination! He would make a magnificent Vampyre.

4. What powers and practices of the traditional Vampire do you seek to emulate?

RN: In answering this question, it is important that the reader realize that emulating the traditional vampire is not one of our goals, nor a significant portion of our mandate. It’s true that we are interested in tools, and window dressings. But such practices are subject to alteration, to being redefined, or even being discarded. This being stated, there are certain techniques that have proven useful. For example there is the infamous ‘Command To Look’. Can one expect to really communicate with another sentient being without being able to (attract and) hold their gaze? Much that is subtle, yet powerful, is communicated through the eyes. When you embrace the gaze of another, you indicate your commitment, for however brief a period of time, towards direct contact. Voice is an important factor for the would-be Vampyre. Through tone, inflection, pacing, and a variety of other techniques, we in the Order are interested in the intensity, directness, and effectiveness of our communications. We are not interested in sounding like Dracula; unless of course that would serve some useful purpose at the time! One Vampyric quality which seems to evolve as the Initiate does, and which rightfully belongs in realms of both kinds of vampires, is something we call Vampyric Presence. Earlier on, we spoke of Essence. The two have a connectivity. Vampyric Presence is unmistakable, yet difficult to identify. It is a paradox. Yes, you feel the Presence... but you’re largely unable to come to terms with your feelings. What is it about person ‘X’, or their control of ‘Factor X’, that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up? Why is it that when you are around friend ‘X’, you immediately get aroused? What is about these people that cause you to experience fear, trepidation, loathing, or some other equally emotive feeling? Actors and actresses may possess a form of this ‘presence’. Yet, Vampyric Presence, when it exists at all, differs from all other kinds of presence. It exudes ancientness. It excites unnaturally. It demands personal investigation.

5. If I wanted to experience the essence of the Vampyre what should I do?

LA: Go see Grand Master Neilly... and some of the other initiates of the Order of the Vampyre! They are surrounded by this Essence since they are this Essence. It is a natural part of them so that they are not artificially ‘projecting’ it, but simply being it. Read some of the books mentioned by myself and Grand Master Neilly in relation to the Vampyric qualities we have discussed. Try to reach within yourself and evoke what you understand this Essence to be. It takes some trial and error, but you will gradually come to understand at least a part of it, which is enough to enable you to experience a bit of it yourself. Please pay particular attention to Grand Master Neilly’s remarks concerning the archetypal force that is the Vampyre before you undertake any personal evocation of it in yourself.

RN: Go see Grand Master Aquino! The ‘essence’ of the Vampyre surrounds us. The ways in which it can be experienced are basically two-fold: Invoke the essence or presence within. Or seek to evoke the same from others who you feel to be Vampyric. There are some ‘dangers’. For example, many who seem Vampyric are nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Such talents are useful, but those who are genuinely Vampyric merely uses those as facades and tools. Legitimate Vampyres possess substance, and they do not disappear when the veils are stripped away. Be wary of psychic vampires. Such are these, that they zap you of your energy and vitality. Psychic vampires are people who have decided to be a plague. They may plague you personally, or even become parasites to otherwise healthy people in society at large. If you seek to promulgate your own vampiric (or Vampyric) essence in order to experience it, do so with the following prerequisite. You do not know what a Vampyre is, hence, do not know the ways in which it will manifest itself. The Vampyre is an archetypal force. It exists in the racial and collective mind of man. It can be a primal force: as such, it may be overwhelming. Do you really want to experience the Vampyre? Then seek out a love of the richness of life. [At this point, Lilith Aquino quoted from Carla Banaff’s New World:] “Once you’re there, you’ll know that you’re inside... you can’t turn back once you’ve opened your eyes.”

6. The Temple of Set grows from a single idea called ‘Becoming’, which they call Xepering (pronounced ‘khef-fer-ing’) after the Self-created Egyptian god. How is the Vampyre an example of what the Temple of Set calls ‘Becoming?’

RN: When the Temple of Set promotes ‘Becoming’, it is speaking about real self-evolution. Growing another arm or leg, growing another year older, or gaining knowledge or remembering something you’ve read are not equivalents or examples of Becoming. Yet some of those events can lead to it. When we say ‘Xeper’ to another Initiate, we are saying, ‘Become’. Becoming, or ‘Xeper’, is a process which promotes personal evolution. In that, one increases her capabilities, experiences herself at a deeper level of existence, and indeed creates change within her ‘psycho-centric’ self. Becoming is a dynamic process, a condition, an environment. The Vampyre is an example of ‘Becoming’. He has made some crucial decisions in his life. He probably decided some long time ago that he was unique. Does that mean better, worse, elite, poorer? Not necessarily any of those. The Vampyre is unique because she has set herself apart from others. She has recognized that she is different, and has stated that she intends to explore and foster the difference. Once the ‘sleeper has Awakened’, he pursues life with new sensory tools. He seeks to change his outlook, his vantage point, his perspective. All of these actions produce real change and legitimate Becoming.

The interview was at an end. They rose from my table and walked into the mist. The mist swallowed them, the secret of the night claiming its own. And suddenly it seemed very cold.

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