Witchcraft Journal Blog

A resource for information and opinions on the beliefs, practices, customs, and magic of Traditional Witchcraft of the British Isles.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Narcissus: Looking at his reflection.

I could not resist posting this beautiful print of the Greek god Narcissus. "Beware of the enchantment of the illusion of eternal youth- it causes the person to resist the world in favor of focusing only on themselves."


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[I selected this article to post even though it is not the Yule season, it is interesting for readers of this blog. Happy reading... Adrian.]

A symbol of love and peace, mistletoe is held as a mystical, magical and sacred plant. Its traditions date back centuries to rituals of pagans celebrating the coming winter. So sacred in fact, that during battle, if they happened across it, ancient Druids would maintain a truce until the following day.......

This ancient Scandinavian custom led to the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe. But this tradition went hand-in-hand with the Norse myth of Baldur. Baldur's death and resurrection is one of the most fascinating Norse myths and stands at the beginning of the history of mistletoe as a "kissing" plant.

The Greeks believed that mistletoe had the power of fertility. Kissing under the mistletoe is first associated with the Greek festival of Saturnalia, and later on with primitive marriage rites.

Pluck a berry for every kiss, and once the last is gone, there should be no more kissing!

Mistletoe of the sacred oak was especially sacred to the ancient Celtic Druids. It was considered the soul of the oak. Gathered at winter and summer solstices, it was used to decorate houses during winter.

Later, in the Middle Ages, people would hang mistletoe from their ceilings to ward off evil spirits and over their doors to prevent witches from entering.

In parts of England and Wales, to give luck to an entire herd of cattle, farmers would give the Christmas bunch of mistletoe to the first cow that calved.

In some parts of England, the Christmas mistletoe is burned on the twelfth night otherwise all the boys and girls who kissed under it will not marry!

There are two types of mistletoe, a partial parasite, sending its roots into a tree to take up nutrients, but also with the ability to photosynthesise. It is native to North America and grows as a parasite on trees from Florida to New Jersey. The other is native to Europe. It grows as a green shrub with small yellow flowers and white sticky berries which are most commonly found on apple trees and only rarely on oaks.

The common name is derived from the belief that it was spread in bird droppings. ‘Mistle’ is Anglo Saxon for ‘dung,’ and ‘tan’ is the word for ‘twig’. So mistletoe actually means dung-on-a-twig!
Although its scientific name, Phoradendron, means ‘thief of the tree’ in Greek.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Losing My / Your Religion - Part 1

The following is from an article in Witches' Voice.

By Patricia Telesco

It has been approximately 20 years since I dove into the Neo-Pagan ideological pool. Of that, the last fifteen years have been dedicated to writing and teaching about various aspects of our faith. Like any Path, things have changed over the years. Some changes have been positive. For example, a lot of us can be more open with our faith without people hiding their children and seeking out torches, and the media is starting to realize we are more than happy to "educate" them when they portray our beliefs inaccurately.

Some changes, on the other hand, have been negative. The current trend toward even more separatism in our community, returning to the comfort of our broom closets, and the lack of energy toward truly establishing ourselves as a viable, recognized religious group qualifies. I'm honestly discouraged. Many leaders and facilitators are discouraged. They look at dwindling festivals, publishers closing down entire lines of New Age books, and the seemingly never-ending petty infighting and ask: why bother? Why continue? I think we're in danger of losing our religion to apathy, to a budget crisis, to weariness, to stubborn egos, and to the conservative trend in this country that is neatly chipping away at the Church-State barrier.

Let's consider some facts. First, I know several well-established elders and teachers who were trying to serve our supposed "community" close to full time. Now they, and/or their spouses, are either looking for or starting mundane jobs because they can no longer support their families with any dependability. Meanwhile folks complain that we have no clergy who can attend to our needs as they arise. Well, which is it? Do we want clergy and teachers dedicated to our growth and community building? Then we need to support them! If we don't support them, we have no one but ourselves to blame when they're at the office during the next crisis of faith! I have personally gone to work full time, meaning there's a lot less festival travel and teaching in my future. It breaks my heart because I /want/ to serve, but my priority has to be hearthside, ethically and morally. We're in danger of losing more and more of our religious leaders to these types of situations. Until something, somewhere gives this is a huge Neo-Pagan reality check.

Part 2 in the next post.

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