MODERN NEO-PAGANISM & THE OCCULT
A Guide to Alternative Religions
And Their Opponents (Vers. 2.0)
PAGANISM : AN OVERVIEW FOR THE UNINFORMED
Written and given to the Public Domain by
Ravensong of the Shadow Weaver Grove
Paganism is a revitalized version of the numerous ancient and often forgotten or misrepresented Religions that were once predominant throughout the world. These each break down into specific sects or pantheons of gods and beliefs, but all have the following vital similarities:
1) All pagans believe in a multiplicity of beings refered to as Gods or spirits or deities or Higher life forms or Entities, not the single god of the Judeo-Christian religion.
2) All pagans have a high respect for nature and natural ways, and a dislike for anything that ultimately disrupts the biosphere for any length of time (AKA Environmentalists)!
3) No pagan worships the Devil, Satan, Lucifer or any other Christian or Jewish demon/devil figure. These are concepts of other religions and their subdivisions (Satanists are Christians with a different viewpoint on who exactly is the power behind the reality). No pagan would worship a destructive force outside of nature, as the power inherent in nature is far too obvious (take a look at a hurricane, earthquake or tornado sometime!) We might not all be what Christians would consider morally perfect people, but we are careful to keep ourselves attuned to how nature works and avoid self- destructing thru improper use of power and knowledge (it can corrupt, but those that become corrupted fall by the wayside in the pagan community, unlike those within government or other religions who simply cause more harm as they grow in power).
4) Although we are hardly unified in our thoughts or beliefs, pagans are a living breathing community that tries to help its members pull themselves up by their own bootstraps thru various activities, we band together as needed and drop our in-squabbling when one of us is in danger from those outside the community. Pagans, in other words, will guard each others backs!
5) Pagans are open minded to others, so long as those same others are tolerant to them. We don't claim our ways or ideas are for everyone, but ask that we not be attacked or insulted for our openness in belief and need for certain factors in our lives. We are not perfect, we are trying to overcome a feeling of being the down-trodden that is hundreds of years old - dating back to the times when Christians burned everyone for heresy in their dogmatic closed minds, some of us fully resent the past and refuse to deal civilly with Christians while others of us say 'you believe what you want and let me believe in what I want'. We do ask that you at least do the intelligent thing and study all sides of the equation before claiming to know the one solution...most equations contain complex variables, and philosophy is no excuse.
6) We believe in 'magic;' that is, we believe in forces and natural laws to the universe that science has not yet discovered. The universe is a big place and mankind is a young race. Magic is the easiest term for the extra laws that scientific theory has yet to explore. If you can understand science and physics you have the potential to become a pagan without even trying.
This article is excerpted from the Rocky Mountain Pagan Journal. Each issue of the Rocky Mountain Pagan Journal is published by High Plains Arts and Sciences; P.O. Box 620604, Littleton Co., 80123, a Colorado Non-Profit Corporation, under a Public Domain Copyright, which entitles any person or group of persons to reproduce, in any form whatsoever, any material contained therein without restriction, so long as articles are not condensed or abbreviated in any fashion, and credit is given the original author.!
THE MEN'S CIRCLE
Here are are some thoughts, not particularly original, on the nature of Paganism, and some beliefs common to most modern Pagans. This is part of what I teach to beginning students. Any additions, comments, criticisms or outright disagreements are welcome.
Pagans view the entire universe, Seen and Unseen, as a seam-less unity with structure inherent throughout. This structure is often expressed simply: "As Above, So Below".
A fundamental tenet of Paganism is love of ourselves, of others and all of Nature. We feel that the natural world is inherently good. A Pagan does not believe that human beings are born innately sinful and holds that the concept of "sin" is harmful to human nature. Nevertheless, we do recognize the reality of specific acts that are evil, and by extension identify attitudes and patterns of behavior that we consider wrong. We consider ethics to be an important part of our philosophy of life, but do not try to impose a morality on others. A fundamental ethic espoused by almost all Pagans is "Do as you will, so long as none are harmed". By implication, Pagans are expected to exercise thoughtful good judgment, as well as being loving people.
We are aware that many of the powers of the universe are persons, we call them Gods, and they are not only "out there", independent of us, but are equally within us and part of us. Ours is an experiential religion; by living in harmony with ourselves and the universe we can get in contact with the Gods and benefit from the experience. When we do this through prayer or ritual it is called worship.
We hold that there are natural cycles in the universe that directly affect our lives, the evolution of humanity and the course of direction of all that is manifest. We celebrate, through regular rituals, the lunar cycle and the seasonal cycles of the year, and through them other less obvious cycles, thus attuning ourselves to the ebb and flow of the tides of Nature.
Pagans recognize and harmonize themselves with those fundamental patterns of the universe that we call polarity and complementary - masculine/feminine, light/dark, positive/negative, force/form, etc.
Through training, study and ritual we bring ourselves into harmony with the great natural forces of the universe and can effect changes in the world and ourselves at need. This is called magic.
Paganism is not fixed or dogmatic. Our ideas are constantly evolving, and we learn from one another. In our differences is our strength. We recognize that the Gods are ultimately beyond our understanding and respect the different aspects that others worship.
Most Pagans believe that our essential selves, the core of the spark of life that is within us, shares divinity with the Gods and does not end with our deaths but returns into incarnation again and again, learning from each lifetime's experience. .....Robin
........from R.M.P.J. 8/86
BELIEFS AND CUSTOMS OF WICCA
Not every Wiccan will subscribe to all of these points, but generally they are representative.
1. The divine Spirit is present in all creatures and things: people, animals, plants, stones...
2. The ultimate creative force manifests in both feminine and masculine modes; therefore it is often symbolised as the Goddess and The God.
3. In some covens, both are celebrated equally. In others, The Goddess is given precedence or even celebrated without reference to the God.
4. All Goddesses and Gods are aspects of The Goddess and The God. The aspects most popular in Wicca are the Triple Goddess of the Moon (Maiden, Mother and Crone) and the Horned God of death and rebirth.
5. Reincarnation and karma are valid concepts. Upon death one goes to a state of rest and reflection, and eventually chooses where and when s/he will be reborn.
6. Magick is practiced for positive (helping) purposes: spiritual development, healing, guidance, safety, etc.
7. Rituals are generally performed outdoors when possible, at the New and Full Moons, and at eight Sabbat festivals which mark the progression of the seasons.
8. Magick and celebration are performed in small groups, usually 3 to 13, called covens. These are basically autonomous -- there is no central church authority or hierarchy.
9. There is no holy book, or prophet, no equivalent of the Bible or Jesus or Mohammed. Individuals have access to the divine, and do not require an intermediary. Every initiate is regarded as a priest/ess.
10. The central ethic is "And ye harm none, do as ye will." Whatever energy you send out returns threefold, so it is wise to be kind to others.
11. We should live in harmony with the Earth and Nature, and not exploit them.
12. Though Wicca is a valid spiritual path, it is not the only one. There is no recruiting, and people should be free to choose the path that best fits their needs.
13. The concepts of original sin, sacrifice, redemption, confession, the divinity of Jesus, sinfulness of sex, Judgment, Heaven and Hell, denigration of women, bodily resurrection, and the Bible as divine revelation are not part of Wicca. Neither are Satanism, the Black Mass, desecration of cemeteries, the sacrifice of animals, etc.
San Jose, CA
Copyright (c) 1983
Amber K., Our Lady of the Woods.
Used by Permission
HOW TO FIND OUT ABOUT NEO-PAGANISM
(pulled from a computer BBS. Author's name deleted)
First of all, find some good books:
REAL MAGIC, by P.E.I. Bonewits. It's a pretty good overview of magick and has thumbnail sketches of the belief structure of most pagan religions. It also has an EXTENSIVE bibliography, after reading the book, you should be able to figure out from it what you want to read next and possibly what pagan religious traditions fit you best. It also has contact addresses for pagan groups. Get the latest edition! (contact addresses go out of date REAL fast.)
DRAWING DOWN THE MOON (Adler) is a description of the pagan community. Get the latest edition! More contact addresses for pagan groups.
SPIRAL DANCE (Starhawk) Wiccan beliefs / practices / magick ... some good psychic exercises...
See if you can find an occult (if you're REAL lucky) / metaphysical / New Age bookstore in your town... I don't know your area, check the bookstore listings in your phone book (you MIGHT have to go to the nearest major city to find one, depends on what part of the US you're from.)
Mail order sources for these books are:
(ask for their mail order catalog... wide range of books, etc.)
RR1 Box 213 Chester Rd
Chester, MA 011011-9735
(recommended to me as a place with a better selection.)
Find some good people.
Warning regarding placing ads to make contact: Never put your home address in this kind of ad! Get a P.O. Box. or a box at a private mailbox company Never meet someone you don't know in a private place. Meet in a public place like a cafeteria or restaurant or library.
If you're responding to a post on a pagan/magick/occult sub/conference/newsgroups (name to fit whatever network you got this from), see who's posting from there locally and E-mail them, find out what they're into. If there aren't any and you know the sysop/sysadmin (e.g. if he's a member of the Religious Right, ask someone else!), ask for one or ask for a list of available subs/conferences/newsgroups/echoes and figure out which ones you want and ask for them.
Check (paper) bulletin boards at occult/New Age/metaphysical bookstores. Add your own contact advertisement.
Also, subscribe to some Pagan magazines:
CIRCLE NETWORK NEWS is a good place to start. $9.00 bulk mail, $13.00 First
Class (USA & Canada) $17.00 other countries, US funds only.
Address: CircleNetwork News, PO Box 219, Mt. Horeb, WI, 53572
(608) 924-2216 1-4 pm CST Mon-Fri
GREEN EGG is $4.95 per issue US. Subscriptions $13 per year US, $18 Canada [and also I believe US first class, in an envelope], $24 per year trans- Atlantic [air], $26 per year trans-Pacific air. Address: Green Egg, P.O. Box 1542, Ukiah, CA 95482 USA.
THE BELTANE PAPERS is back! A journal of Women's Mysteries, with the most fantastic calendrical info from many cultures. 60pp magazine, published twice a year. Women's wisdom, scholarly articles, myth, ritual, dreams, poetry, women's history, music, letters, reviews, calendars, herbs.
Write: THE BELTANE PAPERS, 1333 Lincoln St. #240, Bellingham, WA 98226 (2x/yr./$13, 2 yrs. $21, sample $7)
MORE PAGAN PUBLICATIONS
(note: some may no longer be publishing and addresses may no longer be valid. Send a letter of inquiry before sending money!)
Ancient Ways: "Ireland's Pagan Alternative magazine." Articles, editorials letters, poetry, magic, herb lore, seasonal celebrations, sacred sites. 75p/issue. Write for current subscription price.
Address: Ancient Ways, c/o The Alchemist's head Bookshop, 10 East Essex St., Dublin 2, Ireland.
Awen: "A new magazine of Celtic-Pagan poetry." Named after the primal Kymraeg Goddess for poetic inspiration, the magazine is devoted to publishing the rich stream of modern-day Celtic and Pagan poetry. Published by Kaledon Naddair, who publishes 'Inner Keltia'. $5 for each issue. Address: Kaer Eidyn, 8 Annandale Street, Edinburgh, EH7 4AN, Alban (Scotland).
Cainteanna na Luise: A quarterly journal of modern Druidic arts. "The concern of Cnl, is the multiplicity and mutability of reality, linked with ancient Celtic mythopoetica. Cnl, believes that most 'druidism' today has nothing to do with ancient form, but that much can be learned by going to scholars and Irish sources. Cnl, emphasizes the study of Irish (Gaelige), as a thaumaturgic--liturgical language, believing a person's language determines his/her reality.: Articles, linguistics, discussions, book reviews. 16-24 pages. Subscriptions $9/year in U.S and Canada: $11/year overseas; sample issue: $3 in the U.S; $4 elsewhere. Checks must be made out to John Kellinhauser. Address: Cainteanna na Luise, 805-85 Wellesley East, Toronto Ontario, M4Y 1H8 Canada.
The Cauldron: "An independent pagan journal of the Old Religion founded in 1976." Articles on Wicca, Paganism, earth mysteries, sacred sites, book reviews, history, festivals. This is one of the most respected British Craft publications. The journal is dedicated to presenting a broad spectrum of Pagan belief. It has a wide readership throughout the Pagan movement. Published four times a year. Subscriptions: $6/year U.S (bills only). Address: M. A. Howard, 4 Llysonnen Cottages, Llysonnen Road, Carmarthen, Dyfed, SA 33 5ED Wales, United Kingdom.
Circle Network News: One of the largest, best, and best-known Pagan newspapers--filled with articles, rituals, illustrations, invocations, contacts, news, photos, herbal formulas, reviews, magical development exercises, chants, and other material contributed by network members. Emphasis on Wicca, Shamanism, Goddess-Worship, positive magic, and related Pantheistic ways. Published quarterly. At this point Circle can lay claim to being the largest, most visible, and most important Pagan networking organization around. Circle has taken on the responsibility for being a contact center for Pagan folk throughout the United States and around the world. Subscriptions: $9/year bulk mail in U.S.; $13/year first class in U.S. and Canada; $17 airmail elsewhere (U.S. funds); $3 for sample copy. Address: Circle, Box 219, Mt Horeb, Wisconsin 53572.
The Druid's Progress: The journal of Ar nDraiocht Fein ("Our own Druidism") edited by P. E. I. Bonewits. Scholarly emphasis. Bonewits is creating a Pan-European reconstructionist tradition of Neo-Pagan Druidism. The journal is opinionated, intellectual, fascinating. The organization is hierarchical -- or at least not democratic to the point of overthrowing the Archdruid (Bonewits) himself -- but really good for people searching for a structured form of study on the Druidic path. Discusses beliefs, linguistics, training, history, research, art, music, ritual. Subscriptions: $20 for four issues minimum donation (Canada $30; overseas $40). All subscriptions start with the first issue. Checks payable to P. E. I. Bonewits. Address: P.O. Box 9398, Berkely California 94709.
The Faerie Folk Newsletter: A quarterly Wiccan publication published by Lady Eillonwy and the Children of the Moon Grove. The grove is part of Y Tylwyth Teg (The Faerie Folk), an ancient Welsh tradition. Articles, poetry, rituals, herbs. Subscription: $5/year; $1 for sample copy. Checks payable to Mary Santangelo. Address: The Faerie Folk Newsletter, c/o Lady Eillonwy, P.O box 100585, Ft. Lauderdale Florida 33310.
Inner Keltia: "The Leading Journal of the Celtic Renaissance." A well produced, illustrated journal devoted to "re-animating virtually every aspect of Celtic-Pagan culture and spirituality." Each issue is more than 100 pages, with articles, poetry, reviews, news, designs, music, history, festivals, symbolism, rituals. Each issue is $6 in the U.S.; $7 in Canada. The editor is Kaledon Naddair, who believes that the "Ancient Shamanistic Wisdom of the Druids is being re-born, and it is taking many Native Pagans very much deeper into Initiation than Wicca or Crowley-Mania ever could!" Naddair also publishes two other journals. The first is The Pictish Shaman, a magazine which " focuses on the Initiatory Wisdom of the Primal Celts--the Kruithni/Ffichti/Picts." Approximately 80 pages, illustrated. Same prices as Inner Keltia. The second is Awen, a poetry magazine featuring religious, mythological, erotica, and romantic poetry from the leading Celtic-Pagan poets. Approximately 80 pages, illustrated; $5 an issue. Address: Kaer Eidyn, 8 Annandale Street, Edinburgh, Eh7 4AN, Alban (Scotland).
The New Celtic Review: "The Quarterly Journal of the Golden Section Order Society for the Preservation of Celtic Lore." This Druid revivalist group puts out a beautifully produces journal, many pages are hand-lettered. Celtic news, festivals, philosophy, poetry, bardic lore, artwork. Subscriptions: $6/issue in U.S. Address: The G.S.O. Society, BM Oak Grove, London WCIN 3XX England, United Kingdom.
Paganspoof: This is a one-time only spoof on Pagan periodicals. If you're
getting bored with most of the journals listed here, this will give you a
chuckle. Cost: $3.
Moonstone Publications, Our Lady of the Woods,
P.O. Box 176
Blue Mounds, Wisconsin 53517.
Find out if there is a generic pagan group for networking purposes in your area. The shop or magazine can help here too. Also write to nationally recognized groups like:
Covenant of the Goddess
PO Box 1226
Berkeley, CA 94701
They can help you find other like-minded folks. I wish you the best of luck in your search for yourself.
Another contact resource is the on-line computer bulletin boards and services such as Genie, Compuserve, etc. All of the above generally carry on-line bulletin board listings, either as transfer text files or set up for online viewing. BBS listings are carried in computer tabloids and other computer publications (preferably local for finding local systems), check paper bulletin boards at computer stores, once you find ANY local computer bulletin board, you can start calling the BBS numbers in the listings until you either find a BBS with pagan discussions, either local or networked or a sysop/sysadmin/friend in the computer room you are comfortable enough with to ask to carry networked pagan discussions from whatever source
Pagan discussions are carried on networks such as Icenet, VBBS-Net, Fido-Net (rare), WWIV-net, Usenet where you can find the alt-magick and alt-pagan newsgroups, (good luck on finding locals THERE, though) and PODS is mostly occult/pagan... if you find a local BBS that carries PODS Net, you're in business. See if any BBS in your area carries a BBS list file called OCCULTnn.ZIP (nn is revision number)
If you have access to the Internet and would like to get files with magick / pagan info via FTP, here's where:
** A note from your WebMaster -- This article was written in the infancy of the InterNet. At that time IRC was not the medium it is today. Find a good IRC client, such as mIRC and check out IRC. Almost every network available will have a wicca channel (#wicca). With a little familiarity of Pagan terms and themes, you will find MANY IRC channels devoted to Pagan interchange**
slopoke.mlb.semi.harris.com [18.104.22.168 ]:/pub/magick(1)
Another contact resource (not personally familiar with this one, consider that a disclaimer) to check is with the local Unitarian Universalist society/fellowship/church. Some may have a chapter of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS). Others may not yet be that organized, but have small groups that celebrate the full moon, etc. UU offers an interesting workshop in feminist and goddess thealogy called Cakes for the Queen of Heaven.
Check out the local pagan festivals. A weekend in an environment of co- religionists can provide a great number of contacts, though many will be from some distance away. East Coast fests that come to mind are Pagan Spirit (near Boston at spring equinox), Free Spirit (Baltimore, midsummer) and maybe Starwood (Southern NYS Lammas). Included here also should be some of the the 'Cons' of a more conventional fannish structure with magical leanings, Ecumennicon for instance.
Check out groups with higher than average pagan membership. A few reasonably well known are the SCA, SF Fandom and some radical ecology groups. If you like structured rituals, try the Rosecrucians, Spiritualists, or the ADF.
Practice what you find in the books and see in the on-line posts. If it doesn't work, keep trying. If it doesn't fit you, try something else. Don't be afraid to ask for help, learning magick, like learning computing means asking lots of "stupid" questions, we all have to start somewhere.
Parts of this document are from an anonymous contributors.
Bright Blessings and the Goddess Blessing go with you
SPENDING MONEY ON YOUR BEHALF
As I have recently made clear, I feel that funding defense of magical and earth religions is so critical now that we must put aside scruples about spending and fund-raising practices which we would DEMAND in less critical times. I cannot attest to the skill, finesse, or accountability any of these groups except for one thing: I know that all of them are spending money on your behalf. They are undertaking financial efforts that I believe must be made if you as a Magical Person hope to keep your religious freedom.
NAME: Covenant of the Goddess
ADDRESS: P.O. Box 2216, Berkeley, CA 94704
PROJECTS: Provides legally-upheld clergy credentials to qualifying Neo-Pagan ministers, regardless of doctrine. Well-oiled, smooth-running public relations effort. Their Public Information Officers, in particular Don Frew, are miracles of skill and intelligence.
ACCOUNTABILITY: Financial statements and budgets are approved by the membership at an annual meeting. I do not know if these statements are available more often, or generally.
NAME: Circle Sanctuary
ADDRESS: P.O. Box 219, Mt. Horeb, WI 53572
PROJECTS: Pagan Strength Web maintains a mailing list for emergency action alerts. Holds law-enforcement seminars. Frequently interviewed on behalf of Craft. Excellent interface with national ACLU. Has a small list of lawyers willing to work on Pagan Rights cases.
ACCOUNTABILITY: Financial statements not available at all. Will not account for any income or expenditures, but make frequent fund-raising appeals. If their work wasn't so essential, I'd recommend against them. Too bad they're the ones doing it and doing it best.
NAME: CultWatch Response
ADDRESS: P.O. Box 1842, Colorado Springs, CO 80901
PROJECTS: Publishes a journal which has gotten good reviews from some law enforcement officers. Collecting for two different legal funds for Pagans being persecuted for their beliefs.
W.A.R.D (Witches Against Religious Discrimination)
New Jersey Chapter of W.A.R.D.; Norm Vogel, Director is located at:
Norm Vogel, c/o AMC
1 Centennial Plaza
Piscataway, NJ 08855
If you live outside NJ, you need to contact Rosegate Coven:
P.O. box 5967
Providence, RI 02903
This Organization was formed by Joyce Siegrist, HPS of Rosegate Coven, in Providence, RI. (They obtained "legal"/tax exempt status for Witchcraft as a valid religion several years ago.)
"Despite the gains that Witchcraft has been made over the past quarter- century, bigotry and, ignorance are still stumbling-blocks which must be reduced significantly, and eventually eliminated, if Witches are to take their rightful place in American Society. That is where W.A.R.D. comes in. Our members are encouraged to act as "societal watchdogs" and note derogatory stories, articles, or commentaries on radio, TV, & in print, or actual instances of harassment and report same to their regional W.A.R.D. office or nat'l HQ, as well as to register their own complaints as effectively as possible. W.A.R.D. will research the law & take action on personal levels when assistance is needed & requested. Help and advice will be offered, as well as legal referrals."
"There are no dues, no membership fees, and no membership requirements other than a desire to be active in the cause of religious freedom. You should not have to pay for the privilege of fighting for your religious freedom. Of course, running an organization such as this is not inexpensive, and so we do not turn away contributions - but we do not solicit them. But be assured that W.A.R.D. will not ask it's members or prospective members for money. Rather, we want your efforts."