Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Taking offense

This week, Fox News managed to annoy a lot of pagans and Wiccans. I only just listened to the clip this morning, and yes, it was rather offensive. There were three people involved in the main discussion, the instigator being Tucker Carlson (I haven't found the names of the other two, a man and a woman). Tammy Bruce was also a guest who made commentary during the three minute clip as well.

I don't normally get my panties in a bunch over people doing this kind of thing in the media. After all, the whole point of a talk show of this kind is to get viewers. Well, Carlson definitely won that round: every Wiccan and most pagans around the country have now watched the clip.  I don't like to feed these types of media fear-mongers and hate-mongers, because it just encourages them.

This particular piece was pretty nasty, though. I encourage you to watch the clip for yourself, regardless of your religious choices. Replace "pagan" with "Jewish" in your mind, and "Wiccan" with "Muslim" and see how the piece sits with you. I would say that, had this particular broadcast been about Jews and Muslims, they would have been thrown off the air by the public at large because of the offensiveness involved. The fact of the matter is, though, that there aren't enough pagans around to get on Fox's case about these people.

The parts that bothered me the most were the misrepresentations and outright lies. You can read some of the details at NewsHounds if you like. They've done a fairly good job of fact checking for us, and I feel no need to do their work all over again.

Now, I can ignore the smarmy and self-righteous tones and small jabs. These are the types of obnoxious comments that are made by pretty much everyone who puts down another religion or belief. I've heard plenty of pagans say as much or worse about Christians. It's their show, it's blatantly Christian, so it is to be expected. It's not a show for Wiccans, after all.

At 00:24 in the video, Carlson says that there are so many pagans and Wiccans at the University of Missouri that "they need to have all of their holidays recognized now." This is one of those misdirections that news people sometimes make. It's sort of close to the truth, without actually being true. Unless you're in the know, however, it tends to go past rather easily.

The bottom line is that Wicca, like all religions, is recognized and has the freedom to enjoy its holidays. It has nothing to do with how many Wiccans might be at a school or not. It's just a fact. Wicca is a "legal" religion (and I do hate saying that; it shouldn't have to be said) and enjoys the same protections as all other religions in America.

The other male newscaster than makes a comment that the downside to this recognition of Wiccan holidays is that there are so many of them. He goes on to mention "20% of all school holidays as described by the University of Missouri are Wiccan holidays." (00:36 in the video)

Again, this is misdirection. It's not an outright lie, per se, but a way of twisting the truth to make things look negative. The percentage of holidays that are Wiccan or pagan really doesn't matter. It's likely that 80% of the school holidays are Christian, but that isn't mentioned. It would be inconvenient. The newscaster also isn't making it clear that these holidays aren't "school holidays" in that they aren't days off. The teletype below the speakers makes it worse, with quotes such as, "Testy situation? MU: No exams on Wiccan and pagan holidays." As NewsHound mentions in their article, that's just not true.

The eight major holy days of Wicca are mentioned in the school's calendar (as they are mentioned in many calendars throughout the country, both school and otherwise), and the full moons are also mentioned as days of worship. We don't hear about the 52 weekly church days of worship alongside the other major holidays of Christianity or Judaism, of course, as that would take away from their message. Wiccan holidays are printed in the university calendar, but they aren't a guarantee of time off an exam, anymore than Lent or Purim are guarantees of time off an exam.

Carlson suggests at 01:06 that, as his guest mentions, ". . . this probably wouldn't happen in any other country." Let's see... Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, and several of the countries in Europe all list various pagan holidays in their calendars. To be quite frank, America was kind of late into the game on this one...

I won't even grace Tammy Bruce's commentary about Wiccans "being used by the establishment" (01:34) with commentary. The female newscaster, at 01:47 mentions the whole "Merry Christmas" debacle, commenting that you "can't say Merry Christmas" because it's considered pushing your religion on someone. Again, erroneous. I said Merry Christmas to many people over the Christmas/Yule/Hannukah holidays, both Christian and otherwise. No one got their panties in a bunch. No one I know was involved in a situation where that happened. As a pagan myself, if someone got annoyed at me for wishing them a Merry Christmas, I'd probably call them a grinch.

Carlson then comes in with a snide remark, saying, "You get 20 holidays if you're Wiccan. I guess that's the one to go with . . . " (01:52) He lost that percentage mark that was used earlier. At this point I think he's simply being ignorant and idiotic, not offensive. He really just doesn't know.

It devolves from there. They seem to stop any attempt at being reporters and just get into insulting comments. It's sad, rude, and nasty.

I'm still not out there boycotting it. In fact, it is my strong opinion that we should do the opposite. Let's show Mr. Carlson that we do care (and by "we" I mean everyone who is religious and dedicated to the truth). Let's all watch the show, and insist repeatedly that the truth be told. Let's use Mr. Carlson's ignorance as a teaching tool for the world.

For this reason, I urge everyone to watch the above. Don't focus on the petty insults. Those are there in any single-religion show. It's sad, but pagans do it as much as Christians do. Focus on the facts. There's a funny thing about facts... they don't change. Don't look at statistics, because they can be manipulated. Keep your eye on the bare, plain facts, and when you see someone like Mr. Carlson speak wrongly, assume that the problem lies in lack of knowledge and not malice.

As the old adage goes, "Never attribute to malice that which can adequately be explained by stupidity." Robert J. Hanlon

Check back often for prayers, spiritual musings and all manner of religious discussion and talk. If you have questions or comments, please write to me below. I love to answer questions! If you purchase items I have linked through ads or Amazon, I receive an affiliate portion of the sale. If you find the items are useful, please purchase from my site!
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday invitation

The Cross (1)
Each year on Ash Wednesday, I choose something to give up for the period of Lent. I've done so since long before I worshiped Yeshua, and it means more to me than a religious symbol. It is a symbol of my commitment to the Divine as a whole. This year I likely won't be going to a church to receive the Imposition of Ashes, but I may do a smaller version of the ritual at home with my family.

During Lent, I like to do daily devotions that seek within. One place that I've been visiting online for years is d365, an online daily devotion. It pairs Christian Scripture, calm music, introspective writing and a simple website to help people focus on the spiritual each day. I invite you to join me in visiting Journey to the Cross for the next 46 days of Lent. Come read, and think, and look within, and learn.

Lent is a time of fasting. It's a time of sacrifice. It's a time for alms giving, whether in money or time. It's a time for modest living, and clean living. The 46 days of Lent are a period long enough to break a bad habit (30 days is the average for breaking a habit) and to instill a good habit. Perhaps this is a time to give up soda, or a time to start daily meditation. Whatever you sacrifice, make it something that you truly feel.

Blessings on everyone. May the God of your understanding watch over you, bless you, and keep you safe in your life!

Check back often for prayers, spiritual musings and all manner of religious discussion and talk. If you have questions or comments, please write to me below. I love to answer questions! If you purchase items I have linked through ads or Amazon, I receive an affiliate portion of the sale. If you find the items are useful, please purchase from my site!
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1) Image by Penywise / morgueFile

Monday, February 11, 2013

Short-cuts to thinking

Name calling (1)
During the election months, and more recently during the Sandy Hook horror, I saw an awful lot of name calling and finger pointing. I thought that it might die down after a while, and that people would go back to grousing and protesting depending on their personalities, and that the nasty stuff would peter out. I was wrong. I was very wrong. Since late October (2012) I have seen an uprise in people using insult terms and grouping together people as Them. I find it disturbing.

I was taught very early that such tactics are not means of fighting, but instead are short-cuts to thinking. It's a lot easier to point a finger and call names, or to stick fingers in your ears and yell, "Na na na, I can't hear you!" Actual engagement in communication and conversation can be disturbing, uncomfortable, and life-changing.

Today, the Pope announced that he is resigning. I found out about it through a pagan acquaintance, who posted it online, then went on to read more about it. The result of that posting was a string of comments that were less than flattering. I wasn't offended by the posts, but I was disappointed. I tend to expect co-religionists to be people who share the high morals and ethics that I have. While I have no reason to love the current Pope, I have no reason to tear him down, either. Nor do I have reason to malign his faith or his office. Just because I disagree with some of his religious decisions doesn't make him an object for mockery.

I see Christians mocking or reviling pagans, and vice versa. I don't know how many times I've heard about how "they burned us!" My response has become rather curt. "Funny, you don't look burned. Perhaps some miracle of the Goddess cured you of the horrible scars?" I used to point out that the early Roman pagans burned Christians, too, but that had fallen on deaf ears, and frankly, I don't think it's a lot better than the original cry. Neither has anything to do with the people living here, today, in North America.

Angry protesting (2)
Politics is another arena where name calling and finger pointing seems prevalent. I've made no bones about disliking Obama as president, but I have not called him names. I don't tolerate that kind of nonsense from those around me, either. The plethora of nasty names out there is astounding. I don't even want to repeat them for educational purposes!

What is the purpose of pointing at someone and yelling invective? Its purpose is to take the attention away from the actions of the target, and focus that attention on some real or imagined flaw. By elevating the flaw to epic proportions, the person taunting manages to block out the actual person underneath it all. It is a short-cut to thinking.

It's so much easier to yell out bad words, than to formulate coherent arguments. Yelling requires no research, no time spent organizing, no thought on the part of the protester. Catchy rhymes and badly spelled signs are much easier and much less emotionally stressful to create than reasoned arguments.

The bottom line is, facts speak for themselves. They need no one to name call for them. If you find yourself calling names (and we all do it, trust me), it's time to take a step back. Ask yourself: What am I yelling about? What am I fighting for? Words can wound as surely as bullets, and as painfully. They aren't fatal in the same way, perhaps, but they're a lot longer lasting. Words are more like a slow-acting poison, inching deeper into a person's psyche. And unlike bullets, words hurt both the aggressor and the victim.

Watch your speech. Watch what you say to and about others. Where do you fall into name calling? Where do you make short-cuts to thinking rather than working to find the better method? It's time to own those mistakes, and to work to better them.

For those who celebrate, Lent is only two days away. Perhaps giving up name-calling would be an appropriate and fitting thing for this Lenten season. Consider it!

Check back often for prayers, spiritual musings and all manner of religious discussion and talk. If you have questions or comments, please write to me below. I love to answer questions! If you purchase items I have linked through ads or Amazon, I receive an affiliate portion of the sale. If you find the items are useful, please purchase from my site!
You may also be interested in:

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1) Image by EmmiP / morgueFile
2) Image by kconnors / morgueFile

Monday, February 4, 2013


Knots and bindings... (1)
For those who practice witchcraft or ask the gods to perform acts for them, the idea of bindings is one that comes up frequently. Perhaps the only other spell mentioned more frequently would be love spells. But what of bindings? What is their purpose? Why would one use them?

There is a moral question that comes up when one discusses bindings.  You are, in the very nature of the binding itself, restricting the free will of another person. This is something that is heavily frowned on by many people. Like with all moral dilemnas, though, there is no single, easy answer. Nothing is clear cut.

Most often, on the moral high ground of the issue, the binding is used to stop abuse, pain, or hurt of some kind. It aims to stop or restrict an action or series of actions that impinge on the freedom of another person. An example would be binding someone to be unable to perform sexual acts with children. Such a binding would be considered acceptable by the vast majority of people in the world. The non-magical side of it would be chemical or physical castration, which we must remember cannot be forced on someone (though it can be coerced through restriction of other freedoms).

Restriction... (2)
Bindings are not something to do lightly. They are not easy, not comfortable, and they extract a price from the person doing it. The price might be light or heavy, but it will be there. Think of the Rule of Threes, that says what you put out tends to return to you multiplied. Bindings done out of compassion are no less held to the Rule of Threes.

Why would someone do a binding? As mentioned above, it is done to restrict someone from doing something. It might be a restriction on harming someone. It might be a restriction on someone going into a certain place. It might be a restriction on harming themselves. The reasons are as countless as the human imagination.

A binding should only be performed when all other avenues of solving the issue have been tried and exhausted. When nothing else has worked, when all other hope has passed, then a binding can be made. It can be simple or complex, wordy or silent.

When I perform a binding (and I have done so only three times in my adult life), I take something of the other person and use it as a focus. It could be a hair (hence why witches are sometimes famous for stealing hair), a photograph, a personal belonging... It doesn't really matter what the focus is, and it is not necessarily destroyed during the binding ritual.

Doing what is necessary... (3)
I like to use a candle, which I bless and anoint, then light. I will then take the focus item and hold it, centering all my attention on it. If it is a larger item I may physically bind it using thread or cord. A smaller item such as a hair can be burned in the candle flame or placed into a small container.

During meditation, the focus item's link to its owner is heightened and highlighted. This is a type of sympathetic magic, to use the technical terminology. I usually use a meditation technique that helps me create a visualization of the focus item being surrounded by mirrors pointing inward. In essence, I create a spiritual or psychic "egg" or sphere around the person.

The idea is that the Rule of Threes is enhanced, because whatever the person does is reflected back upon them and ricochets around the inside of their sphere. This can be good and it can be bad, but it is out of the hands of the person doing the binding. It puts the responsibility back in the lap of the bound individual. If they emotionally hurt someone, they find they are emotionally hurt. Like returns like, in one form or another.

The reason I prefer bindings done this way is that they basically dissolve on their own after their job is done. The person within the binding can, through both positive and negative reinforcement, learn to control themselves. When they do, the mirrored egg is no longer necessary and they basically "crack out" of it. It is not coercive, beyond teaching someone self control. It is not painful unless the person is causing pain to others. It provides continuous and constant feedback regarding every action they take. This allows them to educate themselves in fixing the problem.

There are many other ways to achieve a binding, if it is necessary. Have you ever been forced to bind someone?

Check back often for prayers, spiritual musings and all manner of religious discussion and talk. If you have questions or comments, please write to me below. I love to answer questions! If you purchase items I have linked through ads or Amazon, I receive an affiliate portion of the sale. If you find the items are useful, please purchase from my site!
You may also be interested in:

I am bracketed by the Divine
Where I've been - Where I'm going
Snow days
I've been nominated!
It's a new year

1) Image by solrac_gi_2nd / morgueFile
2) Image by imelenchon / morgueFile

3) Image by daisukerman / morgueFile