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The following are just a few of the interesting things currently being discussed on our message board. Please join in any discussion that interests you.

Entropy vs. Infinity, and Decline vs. Ascent

“Omnia mutantur, nihil interit.” (Everything changes; nothing perishes.) — Ovid

“Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact. But maybe everything that dies someday comes back.” — Bruce Springsteen

A lot of religions and philosophies are based in the idea of cycles–that things endlessly wax and wane, die and return and die again. Science and the natural world often seems to support this.

On the other hand, many cosmologies and philosophies also suggest that people and things in general have degraded since Creation and continue to do so. Again, you can find support for this in science.

So we have two opposing concepts here: the idea that existence is a tight, eternal loop (perhaps one that looks something like ∞), and the idea that existence is an ever-widening entropic gyre that will someday dissolve.

There’s one more possibility: existence is an ever-rising spiral cycling its way around to some higher apotheosis. That things improve instead of worsen, ascend instead of decline. This seems relatively rare in religion and philosophy, but it crops up now and again. You can argue that the same is true for science too.

Which is reflected in your belief systems? How is the issue dealt with there? What other metaphysical paradoxes does it touch upon?

Types of Candles

Recently I became a convert to beeswax candles because apparently they are better for the environment, the smell nice, and I like the idea of burning something natural during my religious worship rather than something synthetic made from petroleum. The major drawback is that they are quite pricey, so I have to ration how often I burn them. The store I go to even carries them in different colours, made with vegetable dyes.

I also found tapers made from soy that I like. They don’t drip, and they burn pretty cleanly. They also don’t really have much of a fragrance, even though they are apparently scented. There are probably additives, since soy is usually a softer wax, so I don’t know how “natural” they are, but probably still better than most candles.

However, I still use regular paraffin candles a lot of the time, because they’re cheap, they look nice, and they come in a variety of colours. They are usually the most convenient, even though the natural ones are nice for special occasions.

How Do Gods Get Created?

Color on paper

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Assuming that deities exist, how did they get created? Did they always exist or was there a point in time where they didn’t exist? Are they created by humans or the other way around? What’s the difference between a God and a spirit? Finally, do you think that every single god/dess is an individual?

Here’s my take on it:

1.) Deities are thoughtforms/consciousnesses created by humanity by worship. However, it also seems possible that the gods were originally just land spirits that became more powerful the more humans worshipped them.

2.) The deities were created by humanity, so they didn’t exist before humans existed.

3.) Humans created them.

4.) I believe that there’s a sort of energy/consciousness that exists and that animistic spirits arise when this energy is combined with natural features like trees, plants and other things like that. I’m still figuring this one out. While deities arise due to human belief, these spirits arise naturally. However, they’re made of the same stuff.

5.) All deities are mostly individuals. However, since I view the deities as energy, I think that a lot of deities have energy of other deities in them. For example, Odin, Woden and Wodan are all different beings, but they all started out as the same energy that different cultures interpreted in different ways, which created different beings.

But those are just my beliefs. What do you think about deities?

New Book from SatAset

Book CoverSatAset, one of our long-time members, has just released a new book:

I just wanted everyone to know that my book, Lady of Praise, Lady of Power: Ancient Hymns of the Goddess Aset is now available for sale!

Here is information about the book:

Fiercely Bright One, Beautiful Lady, Queen of Heaven, Giver of Wealth, Great of Magic, Mother of God. These are some of the titles given to Aset, the ancient Egyptian Goddess commonly known as Isis. She is a goddess of kingship, sovereignty of Heaven and Earth, magic, knowledge, healing, divination and owns Ra’s Hidden Name.

Presented here is a collection of over 100 hymns, prayers and inscriptions from various Ancient Egyptian temples and papyri praising and petitioning the goddess Aset. Many of these works have never been translated into English.

In Lady of Praise, Lady of Power, you will find:
*Over 100 hymns from the Temple of Philae
*Hymns and inscriptions from the Temples of Behbeit el Hagar, Deir el-Shelwit, al-Qa’la, the Giza Pyramid, Esna, and Edfu
*Offering liturgies from Philae
*Demotic Hymns from various sources
*List of over 600 Titles of Aset and a Festival Calendar

Here are the links on Lulu:

Paperback: Lady of Praise, Lady of Power

PDF: Lady of Praise, Lady of Power

Advice on groups with members of varying skill levels?

So, recently I had this brilliant idea to start a “witchery and wine” group. I know several women who are into witchcraft and divination, and I thought it would be a good idea to have a sort of informal discussion group where we could all kick back, have a few drinks, and talk about tarot, spellcraft, alternative spirituality, all that kind of stuff.

Our first meetup went well, although it was really more of a ‘getting to know you’ evening – we felt that we should all kind of figure out where everyone is at in terms of knowledge and practice.

So, it seems like most of the group falls under the “interested but not well versed” category. They all own a deck of tarot cards, but most of them are not secure in their ability to read them. They come from different spiritual and religious backgrounds – we have a girl from rural Tennessee whose childhood included Jesus camps where they had to lug crosses around, and another who went to a private Catholic school – but everyone seems really keen on spellwork.

As for active practitioners, it looks like so far it’s me and one other girl. She’s been practising for about 14 years in secret (she’s the one from Tennessee), and I’ve been at it for twenty as of this year.

So my question is this: how do we keep this group feeling like a chill space where we can all learn, as opposed to turning it into a lecture hall situation? I’m not opposed to teaching things, but I really want to avoid making anybody feel like some dumb newb. So I figured I would ask the forum, both to get advice from anyone who has been in a similar situation, and to get the perspective of people who are just starting out on what they would like from an informal group.

Magic vs. Ritual in Witchcraft Religions

Eliphas Levi's Pentagram, figure of the microc...

Eliphas Levi’s Pentagram (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a specific question regarding magic and ritual in Witchy traditions, but I’m not sure how to word it so please bear with me.

So, I’m reading (in order to review for a book-group) “The Real Witches’ Handbook” by Kate West. The book is exactly what you’d expect from a Lewellyn 101 book first published in 2001 (this edition is 2008). In a chapter titled “Spellcraft and Herb Lore”, West discusses the elements of ritual (tool consecration, element evocation, deity evocation, circle casting, symbolic Great Rite etc) and then, separately, “the work itself… the Magic you intend to perform”.

My question has to do with this separation. I’ve always seen Wicca and similar forms of Witchcraft as an inherently magical religion, in large part because performing the rituals as listed above fits the same definitions of magic that I use (see Fortune or Crowley’s famous quotes).

But! I’ve seen instances of (neo-)Wiccans distancing themselves from Witches by saying they don’t do magic, and this blows my mind because I can’t understand how one would practice Wicca without it.

Is magic something separate from Witch-ritual? Is it specifically spell-casting? Or are these aspects of ritual magical acts themselves?

Any input (opinions welcome, sourced facts appreciated) from Wiccans, Witches or folks with knowledge relevant here would be appreciated.

Review of “The Real Witches’ Handbook” by Kate West

Cover of "The Real Witches' Handbook: A C...

Cover via Amazon

The Real Witches’ Handbook: A Complete Introduction to the Craft
By Kate West.
Published 2008 by Llewellyn Publications.

The author, Kate West, is a prolific and well-known writer from the U.K. with over thirty years experience in practicing Witchcraft, both coven and solitary. Her credentials are solid, and her writing style is clear and approachable – her books are fun & easy to read; often described as “having a conversation over a cuppa.”

Originally published in 2001 by Thorson’s, this introductory guide to modern pagan Witchcraft comes equipped with all the issues of its generational peers. It uses the terms Witch/Witchcraft and Wiccan/Wicca interchangeably. It makes huge generalisations and factual claims without providing sources. It focuses a lot on the what and how, rather than the why, of Craft practice. These sorts of problems are pretty common to books of the period.

With that in mind, let’s dig into some of the issues in more depth.

Magic vs. Ritual in Witchcraft Religions

A handfasting ceremony at Avebury in England, ...I have a specific question regarding magic and ritual in Witchy traditions, but I’m not sure how to word it so please bear with me.

So, I’m reading (in order to review for a book-group) “The Real Witches’ Handbook” by Kate West. The book is exactly what you’d expect from a Llewellyn 101 book first published in 2001 (this edition is 2008). In a chapter titled “Spellcraft and Herb Lore”, West discusses the elements of ritual (tool consecration, element evocation, deity evocation, circle casting, symbolic Great Rite etc) and then, separately, “the work itself… the Magic you intend to perform”.

My question has to do with this separation. I’ve always seen Wicca and similar forms of Witchcraft as an inherently magical religion, in large part because performing the rituals as listed above fits the same definitions of magic that I use (see Fortune or Crowley’s famous quotes).

But! I’ve seen instances of (neo-)Wiccans distancing themselves from Witches by saying they don’t do magic, and this blows my mind because I can’t understand how one would practice Wicca without it.

Is magic something separate from Witch-ritual? Is it specifically spell-casting? Or are these aspects of ritual magical acts themselves?

Any input (opinions welcome, sourced facts appreciated) from Wiccans, Witches or folks with knowledge relevant here would be appreciated.

Does magick influence planetary movements?

I was thinking about this question and was hoping to gain some insight from you all.

Does magick influence planetary movements to bring about the desired result that the spell caster seeks?

For example, let’s say that currently the astrological transits hitting my natal chart don’t suggest anything in the way of wealth, career or love.

I am curious to know then if by performance of a spell planets are influenced to align in such a way to bring about the desired outcome?

Or is magick independent of current astrological transits and will bring about the desired outcome regardless of current planetary configurations the native may be undergoing.

Looking forward to hearing your views!