Thursday, April 30, 2009

Is Witchcraft A Religion

Is Witchcraft A Religion Cover
If we look at the origins of the word and how it was used, then yes, Witchcraft is a religion. Wicca as it is used today is a modern denomination of that religion. It's important to understand that Wicca in it's original form was not a tradition at all. And those who claim Wicca is the older base of the religion are not accurate in their assumption. That does not diminish the value or stature of Wicca.

There have been many Traditional practices of Witchcraft handed down among families and cultures long before these words and labels were established. The earliest we can go back in time is to the Late Latin period of the 3rd century AD and the use of paganus by the scholars of that time. Even then we know from the writings of Caesar's Commentarii de bello Gallico (52–51 BC; The Gallic War) that there were pagan practices in place in the Celtic lands.

Because of this, modern attempts to suggest that Wicca is the original religion doesn't take into account these earlier practices of the faith. We know the Druids and Celtic Shamanism existed and were practiced long before the Wicce and Wiccecraft were labeled by the old English.

We certainly know the Norse practiced earlier forms of Norse Shamanism that evolved into Odinism, Asatru and neo-Pagan Witchcraft traditions. We also know these early forms of Norse paganism influenced other regions of the world as the Vikings traveled, conquered and settled in new lands. That is certainly true of their invasion and influence in the Celtic lands.

We also know that Native American pagan practices in North, Central and South America existed long before Indo-Europeans invaded those lands, bring Christianity to the 'new worlds'. These forms of Shamanism are also the pre-cursors to modern neo-paganism. And in many instances heavily influenced modern pagan beliefs and practices. Calling these early traditions "wiccan" degrades the contributions these early people made to our belief systems today.

Taking all this into account, modern practices cannot be labeled or generalized as 'Wicca'. The historical evolution of the words, and their associated practices pre-date Wicca as a practice or tradition. Because of this, we cannot say Wicca is the religion. Rather it is a denomination of the religion.

In or about 1100AD practitioners of nature paganism adopted the label Wiccecraft and later Witchcraft as the title for their religious beliefs. As with all things, that large category of practitioners developed their own doctrine of practices, or ways of implementing those beliefs based on their own generational or cultural perspectives. Traditions became the denominations of the faith and there are many of these within the global religion of neo-paganism.

Many of the Traditions we know and practice have greatly evolved since these earlier times. In part because of the time and general evolution of thought, in part because of the eventual secrecy that blanketed earlier practitioners who were forced to hide from Inquisitions and death. Sadly much of this secrecy caused a large portion of information to be lost and forgotten over time. Even before the Inquisitions we know a large amount of information and documentation was lost as conquers destroyed villages and cultures as they took over the lands and people they invaded.

But the evolution also occurred because the more the human culture learned from science and scientific exploration, the more our understanding of the universe and our place in it also evolved. We no longer see the need or value in sacrificing a life as an appeasement or in honoring our Gods/Goddesses. Today we see greater value in life and caring for the life of nature and the world around us. Because we have grown as a species, our religious values have also grown.

Today modern Traditions are based on advancements in science, merging practices from two or more traditions into one, or even taking aspects of beliefs from other religions and merging them with neo-pagan traditions to create new traditions of the religion.

Through all this, there is one constant - Witchcraft is the religion that sets the foundation of belief and the Traditions further define and implement those beliefs into their own perspectives of practice. Defining their own creed, troth or rede of faith to provide guidance and principles for that tradition. Wicca is a tradition of Witchcraft, along with a large number of other Traditions that existed before the creation of Wicca.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Chymical Wedding Of Christian Rosenkreutz

Chymical Wedding Of Christian Rosenkreutz Cover

Book: Chymical Wedding Of Christian Rosenkreutz by Benjamin Rowe

The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz originally published in German in 1616. This edition derives from an English translation published in 1690. No part of this document is copyrighted or copyrightable in any domain. Adobe Acrobat edition prepared by Benjamin Rowe, October, 2000. Typeset in Bembo.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Clairvoyance

Clairvoyance Cover

Book: Clairvoyance by Charles Webster Leadbeater

The possession of clairvoyant power is a very great privilege and a very great advantage, and if properly and sensibly used it may be a blessing and help to its fortunate holder, just as surely as, if it is misused, it may often be a hindrance and a curse. The principal dangers attendant upon it arise from pride, ignorance, an impurity, and if these be avoided, as they easily may be, nothing but good can come of it.

An ancient Manuscript stands in this respect in a somewhat different position from a modern book. If it is not the Original work of the author himself, it has at any rate been copied word by word by some person of a certain education and Understanding, who knew the subject of the book, and had his own opinions about it. It must be remembered that copying (done usually with a stylus) is almost as slow and emphatic as engraving; so that the writer inevitably empresses his thought strongly on his handiwork. Any manuscript, therefore, even a new one, has always some sort of thought-aura about it which conveys its general meaning, or rather one man's idea of its meaning and his estimate of its value. Every time it is read by anyone an addition is made to that thought-aura, and if it be carefully studied the addition is naturally large and valuable.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Numbers Their Occult Power And Mystic Virtues

Numbers Their Occult Power And Mystic Virtues Cover

Book: Numbers Their Occult Power And Mystic Virtues by William Wynn Westcott

Pythagoras, one of the greatest philosophers of ancient Europe, was the son of Mnesarchus,an engraver. He was born about the year 580 B.C.,either at Samos, an island in the Aegean Sea, or, as some say, at Sidon in Phoenicia. Very little is known of his early life, beyond the fact that he won prizes for feats of agility at the Olympic Games. Having attained manhood and feeling dissatisfied with the amount of knowledge to be gained at home, he left his native land and spent many years in travel, visiting in turn most of the great centers of Learning.

History narrates that his pilgrimage in search of wisdom extended to Egypt, Hindostan, Persia, Crete and Palestine, and that he gathered from each country fresh stores of information, and succeeded in becoming well acquainted with the Esoteric Wisdom as well as with the popular exoteric knowledge of each.

The school of Pythagoras has several peculiar characteristics. Every new member was obliged to pass a period of five years of contemplation in perfect silence; the members held everything in common, and rejected animal food; they were believers in the doctrine of metempsychosis, and were inspired with an ardent and implicit faith in their founder and teacher.

No person was permitted to commit to writing any tenet, or secret doctrine, and, so far as is known, no pupil ever broke the rule until after his death and the dispersion of the school.

The most striking peculiarities of his doctrines are dependent on the mathematical conceptions, numerical ideas and impersonations upon which his philosophy was founded.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

A Ritual Of The Heptagram

A Ritual Of The Heptagram Cover

Book: A Ritual Of The Heptagram by Benjamin Rowe

This brief ritual was designed as a general planetary invocation and banishing, to be used when invoking the Heptarchic Royalty and the angels of the Table of the 49 Good Angels. The symbolism of these divine beings is based on the number seven rather than six, with Sol being treated as one among equals, instead of being given a place of primacy. The ritual can also be used as a substitute for the Hexagram Ritual in other, non-Heptarchic workings.

The preferred form of the Heptagram is the G.D. version. Going clockwise from the topmost point, the planets are attributed to the points in the order of their apparent rate of motion, from slowest to fastest. This is identical with the order of their corresponding sephiroth in the Tree of Life. I use this ordering because when the Heptagram is drawn, the planets' points are touched in the order of the days of the week. Thus this version of the Heptagram embodies both macrocosmic and microcosmic aspects of the planetary powers. The orientation of Heptagram inscribed in the magickal circle is arbitrary. One can make valid arguments for several different orientations, and the magician should use the orientation that fits his own preferences.

To draw the invoking heptagram of a planet, start at the point attributed to the planet and move clockwise. The banishing Heptagram is drawn by starting at the same point and going counter-clockwise. The glyph of the planet is drawn in the center of the completed Heptagram.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What Scriptures Are Sacred To Zoroastrianism

What Scriptures Are Sacred To Zoroastrianism Cover The oldest Zoroastrian scripture is the Avesta. It is about a thousand pages long. Some portions, including the Gathas, are in an older dialect called 'Old Avestan' or 'Gathic Avestan'. The major surviving divisions are:

Yasna

Sacred Liturgy and Gathas/Hymns of Zarathushtra

Khorda Avesta

(Book of Common Prayer) including Yashts (hymns to the sacred beings), Niyayeshes (litanies to the sun, Mithra, Water, Fire, and the Moon), Gahs (prayers for the five periods of the day), Afrinagans (ceremonies of blessing), and other prayers

Visperad

Extensions to the Liturgy

Vendidad

Primarily purity laws, myths, and some medical texts

Fragments

The original Avesta canon comprised twenty-two books, (liturgical, historical, medical, legal). Its existence into the 9th century CE is well documented. Since then much of the non-liturgical texts have been lost.

In addition to the Avesta, Zoroastrians have numerous scriptures from the Sassanian period which are written in a middle-Persian dialect called Pahlavi. Many are exegetical Commentaries (called Zand) which translate, summarize and explain the Avesta. The Pahlavi texts also preserve large summaries and Translations of lost Avestan texts. They are considered of lesser authority than the Avesta.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Celtic Tradition Of Witchcraft

Celtic Tradition Of Witchcraft Cover
Celtic Tradition: Practitioners of the Elements, the Ancient Ones and of Nature. They are usually healers who work with plants, stones, flowers, trees, the Elements, the gnomes, the fauns and the fairies.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

How Is Witchcraft Related To Paganism

How Is Witchcraft Related To Paganism Cover The term Paganism is used in contemporary times to refer to nature oriented Religions which recognize the male and female duality which is found within nature. Paganism is an umbrella concept which encompasses many religions from some sects of Buddhism, to Neo-Druidism, to Wicca, and even to some forms of Christianity. witchcraft is one of the many religions which fits under the umbrella of Paganism.

Some of the older Europeans who would be considered to be "Pagan" in religious practice do not refer to themselves as such. The reason for this is that in some cultures the term Pagan refers to an unenlightened one. Instead, they will often refer themselves as Heathens.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Buddhist Christmas Xmas In Japan

Buddhist Christmas Xmas In Japan Image
The celebration of Christmas in Japan dates back only about a century; yet in the past thirty-five years, the Christmas festivities have grown to enormous proportions (christmas-treasures.com).

Christmas in Japan is quite different from the Christmas celebrated in most countries in which the population has a large percentage of Christians or a Christian heritage. Only 1/2 of 1% of the Japanese population is estimated to be Christian, with the majority of Japanese being tolerant of all faiths: Buddhism, Christianity, Shinto, and so on. In spite of this, the Japanese are great lovers of festivals and celebrations, including Christmas.

December 25th is not a national holiday in Japan, although December 23rd, which is the birthdate of the present emperor, is. Although it is not an official holiday the Japanese tend to celebrate Christmas, especially in a commercial way. The Japanese celebrate Christmas Eve by eating a "Christmas Cake" which the father of the family purchases on his way home from work (or his wife does in the case where he has to work on Christmas Eve).

Stores all over carry versions of this Christmas cake and drop the price of it drastically on December 25th in order to sell everything out by the 26th. This has resulted in a rather interesting expression in which young girls are referred to as a "Christmas Cakes" -- marriageable until their 25th birthday and requiring heavy discounts to get married after their 25th birthdays.

In recent years, thanks to the marketing prowess of the folks at Kentucky Fried Chicken, the Christmas Chicken Dinner has become quite popular. Many Japanese even make reservations for their "Christmas Chicken" ahead of time. People line up at their outlets to pick up their orders. As a result of KFC's brilliant advertising campaign, most Japanese now believe that Westerners celebrate Christmas with a chicken dinner instead of the more common ham or turkey.

by Billy Hammond Duncan



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Buddhism Three Divine Messengers

Buddhism Three Divine Messengers Image
Divine Messengers ("deva-duta") is a symbolic name for old age, disease, and death in that these three remind humans of their future and rouse them to earnest striving. In the "Numerical Discourses, "Book of the Threes, Discourse 35 (AN III.35), it is said:

"Did you, O good person, never see in the world a man or woman eighty, ninety, or a hundred years old, frail, crooked as a gable-roof, bent down, resting on crutches, with tottering steps, infirm, youth long since fled, with broken teeth, grey and scanty hair, or bald, wrinkled, with blotched limbs? Did it never occur to you that you also are subject to old age, that you also cannot escape it?

"Did you never see in the world a man or woman, who being sick, afflicted, and grievously ill, and wallowing in their own filth, was lifted up by some people, and put down by others? Did it never occur to you that you also are subject to disease, that you also cannot escape it?

"Did you never see in the world the corpse of a man or woman, one or two or three days after death, swollen up, blue-black in color, and full of corruption? Did it never occur to you that you also are subject to death, that you also cannot escape it?"

The Three Fates (Flemish Tapestry, probably Brussels, ca. 1510-1520, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England). The Three Fates -- Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, who spin, draw out, and cut the thread of Life -- represent Death in this tapestry (pdl.cmu.edu/Fates).

GREEK AND ROMAN PARALLELSThe symbolism of the Three Fates was adopted and modified by the ancient Greeks (and Romans), whose empire bordered Buddhist India's frontier regions and whose nascent culture was greatly influenced by the East and its ideas. (See INDO-GREEK MAP). In depicting the Three Fates, the symbolic figures triumph over the fallen body of Chastity. Ancient Indian Buddhist lore was incorporated into Western mythology, rife with deep symbolism.

The tapestry, also known as the "Triumph Over Death," is based on the third subject in Petrarch's poem "The Triumphs." Petrarch elaborates: First, Love triumphs, then Love is overcome by Chastity, Chastity by Death, Death by Fame, Fame by Time, and Time by Eternity.

In the Buddhist original, the symbolism of lifespan-factors defines these messengers: Both Buddhists and Greeks recognize these Three Moirae as the "Apportioners" of life, personifying one's destiny -- just as aging, morbidity, and mortality do.

When they were three to the Greeks, the Moirae were:


* CLOTHO ("spinner") spun the thread of life. (Her Roman equivalent was Nona, the "Ninth," who was originally a goddess called upon in the ninth month of pregnancy).
* LACHESIS ("allotter" or drawer of lots) measured the thread of life allotted to each person, just as illness cuts short our lives. (Her Roman equivalent was Decima, the "Tenth").
* ATROPOS ("inevitable," literally "unturning," sometimes called Aisa) was the cutter of the thread of life. She chose the manner and timing of each person's death. When she cut the thread with "her abhorr`ed shears," someone on Earth died. (Her Roman equivalent was Morta ("Death").

RECOLLECTING THE DEVAS


These shocking messages of aging, sickness, and mortality are distinct from what is normally contemplated with regard to fortunate "devas". Rather than promoting their worship and supplication -- the asking of favors and miracles from them -- the Buddha advised people with a devotional disposition to practice "devatanussati" or "recollection of light beings." (See anussati). By doing so one may attain rebirth as a "deva".

But what are "devas "from a Buddhist point of view? The cosmology is clear. The word literally means "the Radiant [or Shining] Ones," related to the Latin "deus. "The word also relates to their penchant for play and sport. Sometimes called gods, godlings, demigods, or even "angels," they are semi-terrestrial (i.e., dryads or "bhumi-devas") and sky or space-beings who live in happy worlds, love to play, and are to varying degrees self-luminous and capable of remarkable feats.

As a rule, they are invisible to the human eye. But attuned by meditation, with the development of the divine eye, they can be seen. They may also make themselves visible by taking on a denser form.

As magical as all this may sound, however, they are subject to the same things all human and other beings are: ever-repeated rebirth, old age, and death. Thus, as happy as their lives are, they are not free from the cycle of existence or from misery, nor are they necessarily wiser or more aware of the future than humans. There are many classes of "devas "in the worlds beyond the Sensuous Sphere (i.e., the Fine-material Realm and the Formless Realm). But within the Sensuous Sphere, which is the same sphere as the human world, there are six classes of "devas "in ascending order:

* Devas under the Four Great Kings ("Catumaharajika-deva")
* Devas in the World of the Thirty-three ("Tavatisa")
* Devas deligting in space ("Yama")
* Devas who are contented ("Tusita")
* Devas who create ("Nimmana-rati")
* Devas who enjoy other's creations ("Paranimmita-vasavatti")

(See all 31 PLANES OF EXISTENCE).

Skillful karma and frequent recollection of "devas "leads to rebirth among them as a "devaputra" or "one born among "devas" (literally, a "son of god").

See "Gods and the Universe" by Francis Story (Buddhist Publication Society, Wheel 180/181) for more details on these joyful beings.

by Ven. Nyanatiloka



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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Monism And Monotheism

Monism And Monotheism Image
I don't feel like talking a lot about this, but I want to respond to RO in the comments. This also addresses the notion of 'basic framework' he talks about in another post. I may actually try to do one - it would surely be instructive

o Monism is the notion that, at root, all things are One. This is most fully expounded in the Vedic notion of the Brahman - the all-mind that contains and reconciles all things in itself. Let me quote myself, from my 'Toward a Pagan Mysticism' monograph:

The idea that at the deepest level all things are united in a single thing/process/existence is a recurring presence in what we know of ancient spiritual philosophy. The Vedic Brahman, the Hellenic Anima Mundi, Norse Wyrd and Orlog all point to the idea of a 'soul of all' or 'mind-material of all' or 'underlying unity' that is within, and shared by, all things. If nature is One Nature, then in the same way the divine might be One Divine (though not One Person...). Monism is more prominent in the eastern systems, but occurs in various forms in western Pagan experience as well.... Monism has, in a few sects, sometimes rejected more folkloric polytheism, and many Pagans are skeptical of its value in our contexts, but it remains a menu-item in the list of IE models of mystical experience.

o Monotheism is the notion that only one being can truly be called 'divine', that one consciousness is the owner-operator of reality. This is always a specific being with likes, dislikes desires and intentions. There are only a few examples of monotheism in the religious world, almost all Abrahamic. Some sorts of Saivite Vedanta may come close, though they have too much of the brahman to imagine Shiva as caring about 'what happens'...

o Monism does not hold that the all-mind is any specific person. It cannot love rather than hate, cannot be just rather than unjust, or express any other moral or conditional quality above another. Especially it cannot have a Providential Will that manages the cosmos.

o Monotheism denies the deity of 'lesser' spirits, positing a difference of kind between 'God' and the ranks of other spirits. Polytheism tends to see only a difference of degree between Gods, Dead and other Wights - Homer referred even to the gods as daemons.

o Monism holds that all manifest things are expressions of or constituent parts of the One. Thus 'the divine' can be multiple and also participate in the One, without making that One, itself, a god.

o I'll admit that I don't really know what a 'monad' is. Neoplatonism is really too late for my theological focus, and renaissance hermetic theology is right out at this point. (I tend to center around Homer and Parmenides, since we don't have any Pagan Gaelic theology to read.) I assume there was/is a First Cause, but consider that far in the cosmic past, and not in any way equivalent to an owner-operator. I don't find infinite regress unlikely - "it's turtles all the way down..."

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Oven Ready Chaos

Oven Ready Chaos Cover

Book: Oven Ready Chaos by Phil Hine

This booklet was originally published by Chaos International Publicatios as a limited edition of 300 copies. 1992, under the title of Condensed Chaos. This on-line version has a different title so as not to cause undue confusion regarding the book Condensed Chaos, as published by New Falcon Publications, 1995.

What"is Chaos Magic? Good question. Since it burst upon the magical scene in the late ‘70’s it has generated a great deal of debate about what it is, what it isn’t, and who’s doing it ‘right’ - such circular arguments being beloved of occultists, it seems. At this point, it would be tempting to launch into a lengthy discussion of the history of magic leading up to Chaos magic, but instead I’ll confine it to a sweeping generalisation and say that before Chaos came kicking and screaming onto the scene, the dominant approach to ‘doing magic’ (and still is, to a great extent) was the ‘Systems’ approach.

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