Tag Archives: wicca

Tales of a Triangle: Children of Artemis Witchfest, Pagan Federation..and me!

Witchfest 2012 -Children of Artemis -flyer

Children of Artemis – a Wiccan (witchcraft) group created the now popular event `Witchfest’ back in November 2002. Clever move really…and clever name..not to mention a brave one! For that I must applaud the genius of `Merlyn’ – founder/organiser of these events. (I first met `Merlyn’  at Vivianne & Chris Crowley’s home, in London, where a number of Wiccans were meeting to plan and deliver a batch of `Wicca Study Group’ in central London. So Merlyn & I were introduced under very trusting circumstances by trusted Elders of the Craft. It was only after that, that I started attending Children of Artemis Events).

Back in those days, we had lots of TV shows like `Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and `Charmed’ – where we could regularly see major Characters using Witchcraft! And the world took it with a growing appetite for such magical, Witchy adventures lived by ordinary (?) people in the modern world. It’s possible that this growing features of the occult, Wicca and Witchcraft  contributed to many a young people either becoming aware  of or gaining a pop-culture-style interest in Wicca & Witchcraft. This in turn helped propel organisations such as Children of Artemis who focused openly on the subject matter (in comparison to others such as The Pagan Federation – who gave focus to many a pagan paths such as Druidry, Shamanism, Northern traditions..in a more campaign sort of way).

There I must make further distinctions. People look up campaigning bodies or organisations – mostly when they are in  sudden desperate need for such help. But people will look up groups and other organisations for the purpose of entertainment, lifestyle and social networking.. anytime and every day! And as Children of Artemis began to cater for this `lifestyle’ side of Wicca & Witchcraft, I believe it also started to gain popularity. Add to this the factor of CoA  owning the domain name http://www.Witchcraft.org (which is bound to come up every time someone searched for that topic), and the addition of a members interactive forum ..where so many debates in so many `rooms’ were going on – it’s hard not to see why CoA grew so quickly. (The also provided a number of other services & campaign helps..).

CoA Magazine-8 Samhain2003-Imbolc2004
Magical Empowerment article by Mani Navasothy

CoA has had its critics – the other pagan organisations who liked to consider themselves as `serious’ and `Children of Artemis’ as light and a fad. I should know.. I was part of those other organisations such as The Pagan Federation. I myself was – to start with – an active member of the CoA! It is where I started making my earliest pagan friends in local pub moots (Croydon), and I also made many an online friends in those discussion forums (not to mention contributing). I was already an initiated Witch /Wiccan so I had that in common with others. I had contributed an article in the Children of Artemis Magazine `Wicca & Witchcraft magazine’ ( my article `Magical Empowerment in a Godless Universe’ appeared in issue#8   Samhain/Imbolc 2003/2004). And I have given talks at 2-3 of the CoA Pub moots (Croydon & Rochester, Kent). And of course a number of workshops at Witchfest Events…on subjects such as Quantum Magic, Elements, Dragon Magic.

I think my biggest contribution (most prominent perhaps is a better word) came when I put together a ritual team, out of strangers I had enlisted on the CoA forum, planned details by e-mails with them, and met only at the `Medieval Witches Ball’ in February 2004 at Fairfield Hall, Croydon..  to do a closing Ceremony! Some of the people I met in that ritual are still my friends – 8 years on!  What precipitated from that was a regular outdoor ritual group – the first 2 – at Spring & Beltane of 2004 were billed as `official’ CoA outdoor rituals, and the organiser Merlyn himself attended – in Lloyd Park, Croydon, along with 20-30 people!  (This group later became named by me as `Hern’s Tribe’ at Samhain of that Year, and still works rituals outdoors in London). Our ritual group also was asked to and did one other major ritual.. the Beltane Closing Ceremony at Witchfest England in May 2004.  Shortly afterwards, my magical partnership with a fellow Wiccan ended and the ritual group changed.

Sadly, the gremlins came to work- and some of my frank discussions online in CoA Forums came under scrutiny by certain moderators. My posts (in the `Male Mysteries’ forum) were deleted, which began a spiral down path of me & CoA eventually parting company. At about the time I was welcomed by the `Pagan Federation London’.  From November 2004, my focus shifted to Pagan Federation London- and for the next 7+ years (till Spring of this year 2012) – where I began to develop (over time) the `PF London Events Team’ (originally just made up of my own friends and keen supporters in Hern’s Tribe). There we have created so many features, events, brought back many an old events and made them regular features (Conventions, Balls, Picnics..) What the current `Pagan Federation London’  Officers take for granted, own and even have become rather possessive  & protective about (against me of all people) are mine and my friends’ creations!

That is  quite funny really  (one of them recently accused me of trying to sabotage an open ritual…which dare I say I planned and booked some 6-8 months prior!).  It’s all rather silly. But I appreciate that people have to find their on feet…and those less experienced tend to feel so insecure – that rather than ease into it, try and shoot their predecessors like me, as if that somehow will fix their own hidden issues? perhaps I am too much of a radical and a moral compass that they just can not face..  This process could also be a bit like children – who when hey reach adolescent have to exercise their growing adult-powers…by challenging their parents and teachers first!  It’s just human nature, I guess.

CoA Mag8 Ad for Witches Ball 2004

Last year, at the Pagan Federation 40th Anniversary Conference, I bumped into Merlyn (creator / organiser of Witchfest). It wasn’t the first time, as I had bumped into him few years ago in a pub and shook hands. But last year, I spoke of me attending the Witchfest. He even handed me a flyer for the event in November 2011. But then the Pagan Fed wanted to have a Stall and I volunteered along with another officer (the new District Manager of Pagan Fed London now!). So I manned the stall in shifts, and attended a few talks.

I must say, looking back over the years, others have had their share of stirring or even egging me on in to certain states…possibly because my clashes have provided endless gossip and entertainment for the pagan communities in London. It’s a bit like a pagan/ witchy version of `EastEnders’ perhaps? In any case, I now stand neutral – within my own sphere, and it probably disappoints those who seek entertainment at my expense! People have shut me up for too long with excuses of `for the good of community’ – and I think it’s time that a balance is struck, and my own withheld truths – such as these I have written above- (and more) are revealed!

And today – it is Witchfest International Event.. their 10th anniversary, and my Wife and a few friends are already going. And me- I am planning to attend – not as a member of CoA, not as a Rep of the Pagan Federation ..not as Speaker, Ritualist…but just as me..  Mani..  a paying customer .. looking for a day out with my wife and friends, some fun, some  workshops,  and some dancing when the bands start in the evening.

Guess what.. Tomorrow is already here!! 🙂

-Mani

Links:

Children of Artemis (wikipedia)

CoA website

Witchfest website

Pagan Federation (wikipedia)

Pagan Federation website

Blog- on PF (wiki entry developement )

PF London website (Oct 2005- Oct 2012)

Addressing Christian Concerns on paganism: Satanism, Devil worship & Human Sacrifices

Dark Lord in Paganism
art (c)Mani Navasothy. 2012

Addressing Christian Concerns on paganism:  Satanism, Devil worship & Human Sacrifices

As Halloween approaches, the media circus of sensationalizing the perceived dangers and apparent darker sides of cults start to surface. It sells papers and TV shows!!   But the ill-advised people who embark on such stories for their selfish 15 minutes of fame & fortune (a trait that is actually more related to Satanism) deliberately end up harming nature-based religions such as Paganism.

Paganism & Wicca have absolutely nothing to do with Satanism!

We have come across numerous misconceptions and hyped-up media propaganda about the perceived `Satanist nature’ of pagan groups, Witchcraft covens and other such new age groups. Those who level such propaganda and attack clearly have not done their studies or research (and tend to twist truths to suit their on personal group gain). Satan is a concept that is found only within the Christian Religions. No pagan or Wiccan ever worships  `Satan’ or the `Devil’.

There are ancient Horned Gods such as Pan (Greek), Cernunnos (Celtic), Herne (English) and other such mythological god figures that take centre-stage in pagan worship, as well as Triple moon related Goddesses (Diana the Huntress, Selene, Hecate) and even horned Goddesses such as Isis & Hathor (Egyptian Cow Goddess).  Ancient spiritual systems contained within themselves worships of animal & elemental powers – because ancient human was in awe of such powers. Horned animals were specifically revered as they often portrayed stature, status, protective and defensive powers. Pagan traditions that have horned God or Goddess stems from this belief. Horns were considered as symbols of power, not symbols of evil.

When one  levels stories and accusations at Pagans working with Satan or Devil, and adds `evidence’, it must be born in mind- that no religion in the world has conclusive evidence of it’s authenticity as coming from the divine itself, other than by here-say and words written or preached by prophets, followers and Saints.

Religion ultimately deals with belief in a divine. As no evidence ever exists that one god from one religion is more real than another god or goddess from another religion, all beliefs – while they can be followed and respected- can not and should not be taken as `gospel’ or ultimate truth over another.

All Journalists, Teachers, Parents and learned people should do well to heed the old saying, `One Man’s God in another man’s Devil’, before spreading accusations that one religion is good and another is evil.

As to the stories of human sacrifices often reported in media- these are not the beliefs or practises of any Pagan, Witch or Wiccan!

In ancient times, many old tribes around the world have practises human or animal sacrifices as part of their religious beliefs and customs. They were trying to avoid the `wrath of their gods’ and also appease their gods. What was most valued by them was life, and they offered life, in exchange for better harvest, better divine protection against their enemies, and safety from destructive natural forces and so on. What history called `Witchcraft’ was those ancient tribal practises. Modern day pagans do not follow these. What we call Wicca & Witchcraft now is something very different.

Modern practises of Wicca & Witchcraft involve using herbs, crystals, healing, and divination using tarot & runes, astrology, meditation, attuning to trees, rivers, land and seas and so on.

Just as the word `Gay’ has now gained a totally different meaning to what it originally was (Happy), and just as modern day Christians can not be held responsible for the Crusades and great massacres old Christians undertook, and just as modern day Germans can not be held accountable for other Germans who attempted genocide of the entire Jewish Race – so Journalists and others can not and must not tarnish the modern day Pagans and Wiccans with primitive witchcraft practises of ancient tribes that had lived thousands of years ago.  In all cases, the names remain, but meanings, practises and underlying beliefs have changed!

(This `article’ is an extract from an upcoming publication).

(c) Mani Navasothy. 2012

Hierarchy within Wiccan Covens

I was initiated over 15 years ago, and lucky to have had those first 4 years …where my High Priestess & High Priest taught and trained me (and my fellow Craft brothers & Sisters).  For those glorious 4 years, I did nothing but learn the Craft, rituals, magic, and kinship. And then one day I was ready and got my 2nd degree initiation, became `an Elder’ and a High Priest of Wicca ..and was gently cast out into the bigger world..

That was when the politics began!  And since then, I’ve had many a discussion with pagans, wiccans and non-initiates (in courses that I have run) – about Covens.

I’ve seen the way the Wiccan covens ..and Wiccan community have evolved..  with time…just in the 15+ years I have been a part of. I can only imagine how it must have been in those early `golden’ years of Gerald Gardner, Doreen Valiente, and of course Alex Saunders. Am not what they’d say..about the Craft now..if they were still alive.

Personally, I myself am seriously perturbed by the way loyalty, discipline, commitment  respect and a  whole load of other sincere traits within Wicca seem to be eroding away these days…and like the yobs in the streets who make trouble and say `it’s my right’,  modern wiccan members seem to do pretty much all sorts of things and call it evolution.

On the one hand, I am all for traditions being kept alive. But then, on the other hand, all things have to change..evolve..  and at times, I find myself being the `black sheep’ of the Wiccan community…simply by me being thought-provoking, and challenging.

So in a series of articles.. (and a few books coming later in the year), I’m going to explore these..

First thing..  let me set the scene…and explain a few basics…as I have now come to understand them..  (extracts from my forthcoming book `Seekers’ guide to Wiccan Covens’).

What’s a coven?

A Coven is traditionally a group of Witches – full stop! It is not a place, not a room, not a house, not a website, not a forum, not a meeting point or any of that. A coven is given a unique identity by a name for that group – often at the choosing the people who formed it and lead it. It is a magical association of certain specific individuals. Where ever those members may be, they feel and know that along with the others of that group, they are `their coven’! You can compare this to the question of `what is a family’? Exactly. A Family is a group of relatives. They may live in the same house, or not. Some old, some young. A core family framework is a man and woman – father and mother- and their children. The extended family includes grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, niece & nephews and more. A family starts with a couple – bonded in Love – and grows as they have children. A coven has very similar structure, as you’ll see below.

Who are Coven members, Seekers & Trainees?

All the people who have formally asked to join a Coven, under the leadership of the couple who formed a coven, are coven members – of that coven! Even in the early stages, if some people have asked to join a coven or are exploring or seeking – but have not gone through an initiation ceremony – are still in many ways members of that Coven.

Coven Leaders & the extend of their authority

As with a family model, which is very much what Wiccan covens are based on (like the tribes of old), a coven usually has a couple – a pair who are magical partners – at the helm of it. This couple are the Coven leaders – often that coven’s High Priest and High Priestess. The abbreviation is HP & HPS. They are effectively who form the coven, initiate others into that coven and run that coven! Their authority is pretty much absolute within their coven. There are cases, where other High Priests & High Priestesses of other covens come to visit – ie do socials and rituals together. Even in such cases, the authority of the actual Coven leaders is- should- and must be respected by all.

This isn’t always understood by everyone. And sometimes visiting High Priests & High Priestesses try to exert their own authority – especially if they have been Wiccans and running their own covens for much longer, or the special case where they are the people who initiated this coven leaders! But such behavior will undermine the authority of the HP & HPS of the coven where everyone is a gust.

This can be easily understood if you think about the family model again. Think about a big family occasion, where a couple who have 3 children, invite their grandparents, uncles & aunts, cousins and so on. Within the house where the party is being held, the couple have the final authority. It is incorrect for the grandparents or an uncle or aunt to intervene in important matters – even if in the larger family framework, they have age and authority.

well, more on Wicca, Witchcraft & Covens…another time…:-)

-Mani Navasothy

connect with me on facebook  www.facebook.com/ManiNavasothy

Related Links:

1.  So you want a wiccan Initiation?  

2. Coven Guide: Become an Initiated Witch – by Mani Navasothy

3. e-Witch Apprentice  Training (Correspondence course)

Witchcraft vs Wicca – a comparison

A bit more on Witchcraft & Wicca.  Another article / write-up I was doing some months ago, and like to share here. -Mani

Witchcraft  vs Wicca:

 “ Witchcraft is a mystery tradition. It is best learnt experimentally. It is gritty, muddy, wet & wild in untamed nature, and requires dedication & discipline. Working with blood, bones, knots & spells are part of that, as well as the exploration of deities, trans-personal elements and cycles of nature.. from the fertile energies of spring to the solemn shadows of Samhain, leading to the light of Yule & Imbolc.”

Witchcraft is an unusual `religion’ – in that, you can practice the Craft without necessarily working with the deities in any way. There are so many books written by Scholars who have researched the subject, and there are yet more – all of whom tend to claim that in the ancient times, people practised witchcraft and they also worshiped certain gods and goddess of the Witches. This approach has been deeply favoured and `built-in’ to Wicca – the actual modern religious pagan path that also has its roots in Witchcraft.  So by saying `Witchcraft is an unusual religion…’  I was throwing a curve-ball, which I hope you caught on to immediately! It has that thought-provoking `gestalt’ feel to it- controversial, and pushing for a counter-rebellious response from you!

Let’s take it a notch or two down, and look at it in another way – from the gut, rather than through the eye-glasses of academics! The only way to understand Magic is to experience it by practicing it, and not by reading and talking about it!

What do we `know’ of Witchcraft from myths, here-say, fairy tales and medieval stories?  I refer to the general perceptions of general public, when I use the term `we’ here.

  • Witchcraft is practised by individuals called Witches.
  • Witches are mostly women – either old hags / ugly crones, or nubile nymphs who seduce and entice (men).
  • Witches work spells at Full moons, and Dark moons.
  • Witches do spells, chants, curses, love-potions, animal sacrifices, boil lotions & potions in their pots, pans and cauldrons.
  • Witches don’t like people’s company, and are rather solitary or reclusive. They live in small cluttered cottages, houses,  make-shift huts or adapted caves.
  • Witches have contracts with the devil or other dangerous unethical entities of supernatural make-up.
  • There are no major initiation frameworks. Witches are `natural’  or are made by other Witches in cultish rituals.

What do we know about Wicca, as it has been popularised in modern media, written about in books, magazines and websites?

  •  Wicca is a neo-pagan religion.
  • Wicca was  `founded’ or put-together by certain key English persons in the 1950’s in UK, using components and aspects borrowed from other western, eastern and ancient / classical magical practices.
  • Wiccans (people who follow Wicca) are also Witches, or practices Witchcraft.
  • Both men and Women can be Wiccans.
  • Wiccans mostly work and belong to covens.
  • Anyone with commitment and connections can join a coven or be initiated into Wicca (by another suitably qualified Wiccan). People can also follow the path and declare themselves as `Wiccan’.
  • There is a hierarchy in Wicca –  Coven leaders and members.
  • There is an initiation framework in wicca: Postulant, 1st degree initiate, 2nd degree Witch (High Priest / High Priestess), and 3rd degree Wiccan.
  • Wiccans have a clearly set-out framework for rituals – Opening, consecrations, energy raising, elements, deity work, blessing & sharing.
  • Wiccans worship Gods & Goddesses.
  • Deity energies are invoked into chosen people (Male & Female) in the coven at any one ritual. This aspires to `see’ the divine in humans.
  • Wiccans have rituals (or coven events) at Full moons, new moons, and 8 festivals around the year.
  • Wiccans do not do animal sacrifices, nor eat children.
  • Wiccans follow set-out ethics and rules which act to deter most wiccans from `abusing’ their magical powers for egotistical, harmful or extreme selfish causes.

This list is not extensive or exhaustive, but it serves to illustrate some of the main perceptions we have of the 2 concepts – Witchcraft and Wicca.

But a key point must be made – Olden day Witches were not Wiccans.    It’s doubtful that most of them even referred to themselves as Witches (for far of persecution?).  But modern day Wiccans do and are `qualified’ (or rather given a hierarchical validation at initiations) to call themselves Witches, as well as being Wiccans.   It’s as if the more acceptable aspects of Witchcraft have been taken, and amalgamated with other pagan practical frameworks, and be now known as Wicca.

My view is that Wicca has parts of Witchcraft within it, but not all. And Witchcraft is a more nebulous raw practice of dabbling in spell-craft and magic, without so much of the contrived framework of Wicca that would either define or restrict it.

(c)Mani Navasothy (23Feb12)

This was used in the website Witchcraft & Magic

Psychology & Magic: Know thy Inner-Child

Hi readers, I got to thinking, that for a guy who tags a number of blogs under  Wicca & Witchcraft – and specifically the  psychology, I haven’t really said much on those subjects…and yet, it’s those very realms that my everyday mind is occupied with.    I found this  write-up I had done for one of the modules of the e-Witch Apprentice course.   -Mani

Inner child

We each have an inner-child within us. It is a permanent psychological aspect of each one of us that stays with us forever. The inner child stems from our own childhood days and experiences, and he/ she does not grow! People may think that because it’s a `child’ within us, he/ she is powerless, and harmless. This is true on some level, but not in the way many of us think!

Gaia’s Child (graphics (c)Mani Navasothy 2012

As with any child on this planet, an inner child is powerless  – to fend for him/ herself, and protect him/ herself. But an inner-child is not to be under-estimated as one having no power. On the contrary, our inner-child has more power `over’ us than any other being on the planet! The personality and character of the inner-child can at times over-whelming and all-consuming! The whims and tantrums that our inner-child throws can quite easily take over us and control our actions and emotions.  Effectively, it’s as if the Inner-child is the driver of the adult-person!!

Our needs for security, for love, for warmth, food – and for our mothers  all stem from the Inner-child in us. And so does our need and want for play!  And what’s more, our very creativity stems from the inner-child.

The inner-child does not care about time-tables, schedules, work-loads, deadlines, career progressions, relationships (except one with `The mother’), honour, commitment, altruism or ideals.  He or she just is – pure need,  pure base  emotions, and pure joy!  Eat, drink, sleep & play are his or her only modes, and  the inner-child does not even have self-awareness, or self-identification.  He or she is a pure creature of nature!!

One of the major aspects that govern an inner child is that he/ she – just like any child – has an identity liked and intertwined with the Mother.  When his or her needs are met, he / she is happy and engages in play, and when those needs return, he/ she instinctively wants/ needs and seeks The Mother. And if the mother engages and fulfils those needs  (food, company, warmth, affection), then the Mother is `seen’ as `Good Mother’.  And if the mother does not seem to be fulfilling those needs – when the inner-child wants it (prompt), then the Mother is seen as `bad Mother’.

Mothers can quite quickly go from being `good mother’ to bad mother’ – in seconds, depending on how they did or did not fulfil the inner-child. And of course, if one person is fulfilling the inner-child, then that person – male or female `becomes’ the `good mother’, and elsewhere, another person who did not fulfil the needs of the Inner-child becomes `bad-mother’.

These psychological constructs are projected into our everyday interactions and relationships.  It is not the scope of this brief introduction to go into details, but needless to say,  how we as adults relate to people, leaders, authority figures, lovers, spouses, and even our Gods & Goddesses – are all so intricately tied into the Inner-child.

Knowing `thy self’ is a process, by which, we learn to separate the needs and whims of the inner child away from our `adult’ self, as well as other key considerations (projections, shadows, anima/ animus etc).

In this e-witch Course, we include various practical work and exercises – some of which may seem bizarre and `childish’. However they are not designed for you the adult – and they are aimed at your inner-child!!  For we have learnt through much study, counselling and personal magical experiences – that creativity and true magic flows from the purest of all humans – the child in us!

It is the responsibility of us – the grown-up adults, to become the `good mother’ to our own inner-children, and care, comfort and protect. When those are taken care of, and when we let ourselves play freely, we begin to tap into primal forces of magic!!

(c)Mani Navasothy. 22Feb2012

———–

Acknowledgement:   Much of these concepts were taught to me by the late Maureen Brown, Counselor & High Priestess of Wicca.  I shall give her due respect in another blog entry.