Witchcraft and Wicca are often falsely portrayed by the media, resulting in many myths and misunderstandings. In recent times, Wicca in particular has been misrepresented, and portrayed in unfavorable ways. Let’s look at some of the common misconceptions that surround Wicca and clarify them.
The most damaging myth about Wicca is the perpetuation of the myth that the Wiccan religion is connected with Satanism. Wiccans do not acknowledge, nor accept the idea of a devil as it exists in the Christian tradition. Wiccans do not believe in, and therefore do not worship Satan. The pentagram is a sacred symbol in Wicca and it is one Satanists have also used. This may also add to the confusion. It’s important to note however that the pentagram has been a symbol used in a variety of traditions for thousands of years, and it holds different meanings for each one.
Wicca is often associated with the casting of dark spells or black magic. Wiccans are opposed to the use of negative magic or spells. They believe in the threefold law that states what one puts forth energetically, is returned to them three times over. For this reason, it would not be wise to put forth energy or spells intended to bring harm to others, as you would also draw harm upon yourself.
Wiccan rites and rituals do not involve the harming of animals. We’ve all seen the myths where witches brew recipes in cauldrons with “eye of newt” etc, but in reality, Wiccans never harm living creatures for any religious rite. Wicca is a nature-based faith and its followers are encouraged to respect all living beings. Offerings in Wiccan ceremonies consist of flowers, wine and food, never animals or humans for that matter.
Some myths suggest Wicca is not an actual religion, however in the US, it is a federally recognized religion. Wicca takes several of its practices from ancient Pagan traditions, but it is actually a newer religion established in the 1950′s. It is a pantheistic faith where Gods and Goddesses are both recognized. Not all Wiccans practice witchcraft and vice versa, not all practicing witches are Wiccan.
Some myths hold that the Wiccans use a dark “holy book”; this is not true. Wiccan tradition has no official holy book or bible. The book of shadows this myth is misconstruing is a very personal book to the individual practitioner. There is nothing dark or evil about it.
A book of shadows may contain one’s own personal spells, stories, lore and knowledge. For example, a Wiccan may record favorite lessons that help enhance their faith. In another part of the book they may record their favorite spells or prayers and in another portion, keep practical information about herbs and their uses. Every person’s book is different and unique to them; it is simply a personalized repository of information.
Unfortunately, there is a tendency in Hollywood and the media to enhance certain perceptions about Wiccans and witches, especially around Halloween. Although most of it is not meant to be harmful, it does perpetuate stereotypes and prejudices that are not only untrue, they are very unfair. Witches are not ugly old hags, they do not practice blood rituals and they are not evil or in cahoots with any demons. Most Wiccans look like everybody else. The only way you might recognize one is by the religious symbol of a pentagram they often wear, in much the same way many Christians were crosses.
Discrimination against Wiccans is quite common. Unfortunately, when myths become shared more than knowledge, it lends itself to misconceptions and prejudice. Learning the truth about Wicca, what it actually represents, and how it is practiced, can help give others a better understanding and hopefully lead to more peaceful co-existence among those of different faiths.by
Ah, it’s October and many people are anxiously anticipating the joy of fall weather and the buildup to the Halloween festivities. Halloween is a much-loved holiday throughout many countries of the world. It has taken its shape from a long line of beliefs and traditions from many cultures.
Our modern version if a hodge-podge of different pieces from those ancient times, but is now a largely secular holiday. For many however, Halloween, also known as Samhain (prounounced Sow – in), is a spiritual celebration with great meaning.
What is Samhain?
Samhain is a festival that marks the end of the harvest and the beginning of winter. It is celebrated from October 31 to November 1 from sunset to sunset. It is a traditional Gaelic festival, mentioned a lot in early Irish literature.
During this time, the cattle were brought down from the pastures and slaughtered to prepare for the winter ahead. Bonfires were lit and people and animals passed between them as a cleansing ritual. It was believed that during this time, the spirits of the dead were nearest to us, and that the doorway to the other world would briefly open, allowing the souls of the departed to reenter briefly.
Large feasts were held to celebrate the harvest and the souls of deceased loved ones were summoned to attend. During this time, people also took steps to prevent harm from evil spirits. Later, Samhain came to be known as the Celtic New Year and was linked to All Souls Day, the Christian holiday used to remember and honor the dead.
Today, Samhain is still celebrated as a festival, primarily by Celtic neopagans and Wiccans. Not only is it a time to reconnect briefly and honor those who have gone before; it’s also the celebration of a fresh start and new beginnings. It is a time to honor the seasons and cycles that form the natural rhythm of life and to express gratitude for the abundance of the harvest.
Although today’s Halloween is primarily a secular holiday that focuses on costumes, pumpkin carving and trick-or-treating, they too all have their roots in ancient tradition. Because it was believed that spirits wandered the Earth at this time, costumes were worn to confuse the spirits and keep unwanted visitors at bay.
In Ireland, turnips were hollowed out and a candle was placed in them. This was to discourage passing ghosts from entering the home, while lighting a path for them to follow. It was believed to ward off evil. During the potato famine, many Irish relocated to America and carried this tradition with them, instead using native pumpkins and the now famous tradition of pumpkin carving and “Jack-O-Lanterns” was born.
Trick-or-treating itself is not new. It has its origins in medieval Europe. On All Souls Day, children would go door to door asking for gifts of food in exchange for saying prayers for the dead.
The fun customs we enjoy today have their roots deep in within the traditions of many centuries ago. No matter how you celebrate; it is interesting to ponder the rich history of the holiday and how it connects back through so many centuries and cultures. As you engage in your Halloween festivities this year, stop for a moment and reflect a bit on the history that has brought us to today. It is a day to honor those ancestors who have passed before us and what better way than by keeping tradition alive.
There are a lot of terms that are sometimes used interchangeably when they shouldn’t be. Wicca and witchcraft, although similar in some facets, are very different things. Wicca is a relatively new religion, introduced to the public in the 1950′s and started by Gerald Gardner. Witchcraft, on the other hand, is not a religion, but a spiritual practice. Most witches are pagan, but a witch can have any religion – or none at all.
Wicca combines some elements of traditional witchcraft with other ancient pagan rituals, ceremonial magic and even some Eastern philosophies. Over the years, different ideas have been added onto it by many people. Although there are central ideas that are prevalent, Wicca itself has no specific central structure. There is no “Wiccan Bible” or equivalent.
Wicca is a duo-theistic religion, with a belief in both the God and Goddess. Many view it in a more pantheistic way – God, as an all-encompassing power, with both masculine and feminine archetype characteristics. Both the masculine and feminine are equally required for the whole of creation to be possible. Wiccans focus on their connection with the divine and their own spirituality.
Wicca relies heavily on ceremonial magic. There is typically a hierarchal structure in place, where initiates are given a degree or work into covens. There are some solitary Wiccan practitioners, but it is usually practiced more formally within a coven or group. The coven will adhere to core principles, but are flexible in many of their own ideas. Every coven is a bit different. For the most part, all Wiccans worship the god/goddess and celebrate the Sabbats and Esbats.
Witchcraft is different. It is not a religion, but a spiritual practice that does not require the belief in specific deities. Although some Wiccans do incorporate witchcraft into their practice, it is an independent thing. Not all Wiccans are witches, and vice versa. Not all witches use ceremonial magic and many who do cast spells do so without a lot of tools and ritualistic items more common to Wicca.
Witchcraft is a very personal spiritual path for every individual. It hails from old traditions, but is vastly different in how it is practiced depending on the person you talk to. Many witches are solitary practitioners, although some do practice their craft within a coven.
It is easy to become confused about the differences between Witchcraft and Wicca. Many books, especially aimed at beginners, will refer to Wiccans as “witches” for example. This makes the terms seemingly interchangeable, of course leading to even further misunderstanding. Many Wiccans also practice witchcraft and many witches have no interest at all in Wicca. So, if you’ve been confused, hopefully this clears things up for you a bit.by
Are you looking to welcome more serenity into your world? Do you have visions of acceptance and grace among people everywhere? Many traditions have taught us that peace begins at home, by fostering understanding and developing compassion for both self and others. Focusing on our connection with all living fosters empathy and understanding. This leads to a lasting peace that not only makes you happier, but those blessings extend to others as well.
Peace can be welcomed into our lives by remembering and honoring the fact that we all come from one source. Namaste is a simple word that sums this up quite nicely. It translates to “I bow to you”, but its deeper meaning and wisdom is an acknowledgment that we all come from the same source. At the heart of existence, we are one. Namaste is a wonderful mantra that can immediately bring us to our heart center, the place where there is no duality, only unity of spirit.
The OM symbol is another great reminder of unity and harmony. The OM is said to be the sound of creation itself. When we focus on it or make the sound during meditation, we raise our energetic vibration to align to this ultimate place of peace and understanding. Wearing symbols like the OM can also serve as reminders throughout the day, to stop and focus on peace and unity.
Nearly every culture and religious tradition has prayers, rituals or incantations for peace. These also invite harmony and order into your day. Display them in areas where you want to invite positive, harmonizing energy to flow. Prayer flags, banners and other decorations like candles can be an instant reminder to invite peace into your space.
Mahatma Gandhi said “We must be the change we wish to see in the world”.
This is so true and it serves as a reminder that peace is also a habit that must be practiced regularly. Learn to let go and allow it to flow through you. There are many practices that can invite more peace into your life.
Meditation is a great way to release the worries of the day and focus on unity with your source. As you enter your heart center, all external influences fall away, allowing you to welcome the peace that accompanies higher wisdom and understanding.
Writing in a journal or practicing art allows the emotions to flow freely. The release welcomes a more peaceful, tranquil state of mind. When emotions are bottled up, they eventually reach a breaking point, resulting in negative responses. Regular methods of emotional expression prevent this.
Yoga and other forms of physical exercise can also help foster harmony. Stress is the enemy of peace. When we learn to be fully present and aware of the mind and body; anxiety, fear and other tensions fall away naturally. Exercise also releases endorphins, the “feel good” hormones in the body that evoke feelings of peace and happiness.
There are many ways to facilitate the flow of harmonious energy in your home and office space as well. Working and living in places that encourage peace makes it a natural part of your being. When we become peaceful, we actively seek out more of the same energy. We become more compassionate, more connected and happier.
Place items in your space that inspire harmony. Salt lamps, water features, and scented pillar candles can instantly enhance the vibrational energy of a room or space and allow the energy to flow freely, inviting peace.by
Is it really possible to find peace within yourself, not for just fleeting moments, but real lasting peace? Actually, yes it is. Inner peace is a series of choices and habits that can be recognized, developed and put to use whenever you need. Imagine yourself able to let go and completely relax at will.
Did you know optimists are far better at recognizing new opportunities and staying motivated to reach their goals? They often excel in life, not because they have super-human skills or strengths, but because they have a strong faith in themselves that fuels their drive and determination. This allows the universal laws to work through them and with them, to manifest their goals and dreams. Positive thinking is the primary component of inner peace. When you feel good about yourself and your ability to handle situations in life, inner peace and calm is the natural result.
Fortunately, optimism is more than just an inherent personality trait, and positive thought can be developed and used by anyone. In order to restructure our thought patterns however, we first must become aware of them.
Techniques for Developing Lasting Peace
Meditation is a great way to discover and change our thought patterns. In a meditative state, you naturally enter a place of inner calm and serenity. As you relax and distance yourself, you can view your thoughts as an observer. You’ll see patterns emerge and from there; you can work to restructure how you think.
Meditation teaches you how to be fully present and aware, a key to inner peace. When you are here now, fully and completely within the present moment, you are free. Think about it. How much time do you spend each day worrying about what might happen or what has already passed? Living in the past can lead to feelings of regret and living in the future creates anxiety and uncertainty. Peace happens in the now; that place of full and present awareness that meditation provides.
With regular practice, even just a few minutes per day, you will come to a place where you can enter a meditative “here an now” state at will. Imagine being able to just turn off stress at any time. Wouldn’t that be great?
Self-hypnosis is another tool that brings you to a fully relaxed state. As a bonus, suggestions can also help reprogram your subconscious beliefs, turning negatives into positives. Affirmations and visualizations can then help reaffirm these new empowered beliefs.
What we believe shapes who we become and the actions we take. Developing a new, empowered set of beliefs, leads to inspired actions that boost self-confidence and provide a greater overall sense of peace and contentment.
As you experiment with different techniques, keep a journal. It’s a great outlet for your thoughts and emotions. In time, you can look back and see at a glance how much you’ve grown.
Finally, peace – like happiness, is a choice we can make moment to moment. In times of struggle, we can condition ourselves to seek the silent center; the eye of the storm where all chaos falls away and we are better able to access our inner wisdom and higher guidance, regardless of what surrounds us in the outer world.by
Do you find yourself feeling tense at work? Do deadlines, co-workers or other issues create a disagreeable environment? Stress in the workplace is very common and it leads to a variety of problems including decreased satisfaction and productivity.
Long term, chronic stress can lead to a variety of health problems including anxiety, depression and increased risk of heart attack and stroke. It’s important to manage stress regularly to stay healthy – body, mind and spirit.
Get a little more zen in your workday with the following tips:
Take regular breaks. Sitting for prolonged periods is not healthy physically, and it can also cause mental fatigue. One of the best ways to boost productivity is to get up and move for a few minutes every hour. This practice relieves tension and clears the mind. If you have an extended lunch break, consider taking a long walk to further enhance energy levels and increase health.
Breathe. Take a few moments to close your eyes and focus on your breath. A few deep, cleansing breaths, followed by a good stretch, can instantly relieve stress and fatigue.
Enhance your work space. Decorate with your favorite stress busting décor. Salt lamps for example, purify the air and reduce negative energy. They are also beautiful and incredibly soothing to gaze upon when tension levels rise. Keep a photo of your favorite relaxing place on your desk or hang encouraging mantras on the wall. When you need a moment, look at your visual cues to aid relaxation.
Avoid distractions. Social media and games can be very tempting, but they can really take away from valuable work time, leaving you rushing at the end of the day. If you struggle with self-discipline, there are several browser extensions and programs that can block access to specific websites during work hours.
Get organized. Chaos leads to stress and nothing is as frustrating as trying to do your job and having to continually stop to find things. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed or out of control. Clutter creates stress; having a place for everything and keeping it where you can find it, will not only make your work flow easier, it will calm and soothe you. There’s nothing like a sense of order to enhance your workspace.
Eat well. Skip the vending machine and go for the fresh fruit or wholesome snacks and lunches instead. Sugary processed foods create stress in the body by causing blood sugar levels to spike and crash. This leads to fatigue and muddled thinking, which further compound stress. It truly is a vicious cycle. Eating right ensures good energy, clarity of thought and more peace of mind.
Soothe your soul with sound. The right music can be a great way to release stress. Keep headphones handy if your workplace allows it. Listen to a meditation CD during your breaks or play soothing sounds to help relieve tension.
There are many ways to create a happier, healthier workspace. Reducing stress in the office and at home is essential for good health.by
When most people think of relaxing, images of vacations, or unwinding after a hard day at work come to mind. While these are certainly great times to get away from it all and get refreshed, that isn’t enough to battle the ravages of stress on the body, mind and spirit.
Relaxation should be practiced regularly throughout the day. Many people resist this idea, because they feel it will make them less productive, or that others will feel they are “lazy”, however this is not the case. The truth is, regular relaxation techniques have surprising benefits. For example, those who take time to focus on their breathing, can instantly relieve stress and clear the mind, allowing them to work better.
Relaxation can be incorporated in simple ways throughout the day. It will not only help you feel better, it will protect your health and enhance your overall state of well-being, not to mention your performance. Lets look at some great ways to add relaxation to your daily schedule.
Relax when you wake up. Many people hit the ground running as soon as the alarm clock rings. They sleep until the last possible moment, then jump out of bed, rushing around to get to work on time. This induces stress and sets the trend for the rest of the day. Instead, wake up and relax. Stretch well, then sit and enjoy breakfast slowly. Have a nice blend of tea or your favorite coffee in a relaxing place. Sit outside on nice mornings and enjoy some fresh air and the sound of wind chimes. Don’t turn on the TV or engage in distractions. Take some quiet time and just be with your thoughts for 5 to 10 minutes. This is relaxing and puts you at ease, setting you up for a less stressful day overall.
Whether at work or at home, incorporate items into your space that help induce calm. If you work in an office, perhaps add a salt lamp or some of your favorite crystals to your desktop to absorb negative energies and promote a sense of peace. Artwork is a great way to add relaxation to any atmosphere. Hang your favorite artwork and periodically take a full minute to look at it and appreciate it. This clears the mind and promotes relaxation.
The simple act of getting out of our heads for just a moment can bring clarity and peace. If you are feeling tense, stop, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Really focus on the breath; feel your lungs fill with air, how your clothes touch and move with your body. Really focus on full and present awareness. When you return to the task at hand, you’ll find yourself better able to concentrate. This practice only takes a minute or two, but the benefits can last for hours.
Other ideas for adding relaxation to your day include:
Incorporate sound. Relaxing music or soothing binaural beats that can help induce a semi-meditative state that keeps you both relaxed and focused.
Use your sense of smell. Aromatherapy is a great way to soothe body, mind and spirit. Use your favorite essential oils or a blend to help induce relaxation any time you start to feel a little tense.
Take time to exercise. Regular exercise is actually very soothing to the body for hours afterwords. The release of “feel good” endorphins produced by heavy activity helps relax the body and clear the mind.
Take a power nap. A nap of no longer than 20 minutes can be very soothing. The siesta is practiced in many cultures and is valued for good reason. Research has shown that a quick nap improves memory and boosts creativity.
Take time to practice meditation regularly. Daily meditation, even for just a few minutes, relaxes, eases stress and anxiety and has been proven scientifically to have numerous health benefits. Regular meditation also conditions the mind and body and will allow you to enter a relaxed state at will with consistent practice. Meditation is a great way to free and open the mind when you need to find answers or clarity.
In addition to incorporating relaxing practices to your daily routine, create an evening ritual that will help you sleep well. Working with our body’s natural circadian rhythm ensures a deeper, more restful and restorative sleep. Relaxing activities before bedtime help reduce stress and enhance well-being. Some ideas include writing in a favorite journal, enjoying an herbal bath with lavender or chamomile. Sip a relaxing blend of tea and curl up with your favorite book or do a few relaxing yoga poses to stretch and soothe the body and help tired and tense muscles relax.
Regular relaxation combats stress, improves health, heightens creativity and enhances our thinking processes. Peace begins at home, restore body, mind and spirit by taking time to honor yourself daily.
This is the question every person on the planet has likely pondered at various points in life. How do I find happiness? It is often an elusive answer, one that takes a long time to discover, but once you know the secret to true joy, it becomes something ingrained in you that can never be taken away.
Most people believe happiness is a goal, a destination they must reach through some other channel. How often have you told yourself things like “When I find my soulmate I’ll be happy” or “When I have the right job, then I’ll be happy”, etc. When happiness is approached as a distant goal, it always stays in the future. It becomes elusive and frustrating.
The key to lasting happiness is realizing that it is a choice, not a goal or attainment with prerequisites. At any moment, we can choose to steer our thoughts in positive directions and when we do this, we invite happiness. Those who work to consciously shift their energy towards the positive vibrations of gratitude and love, find that joy or bliss is a natural byproduct of those efforts.
This doesn’t mean that long-term goals are not important to happiness, indeed they are. When we have goals and dreams, it gives us incentive and motivation. That spark of passion and a true desire to accomplish goals elicits happy feelings. Suddenly, we discover that happiness is in the journey itself and not dependent on the destination. As we work towards loftier goals, we can remain motivated by tracking progress, being actively grateful for the means to work towards the goal and visualizing the desired result with a penetrating focus.
The key to “finding happiness” is to stop searching for it – and start choosing it. Use tools to help you refocus your mind and shift your energy. Use a gratitude journal, introduce items into the home that encourage the flow of positive, abundant energy. Salt lamps, crystals, fountains and other items can help channel new energy and draw peace and happiness.
Mindfulness meditation is another happiness inducing practice. When you enter a meditative state, you are placing yourself fully in the present moment. In this space, there is no anxiety or fear because you are completely here, right now. Anxiety and sadness are the result of living in the past or future. The present moment is like the eye of the storm, a calm, quiet center that is harmonious and serene. Daily meditation, if only for a few minutes, can help you learn to bring your thoughts to the present at will. This can help you to direct your thoughts consciously towards what you do want as opposed to what you don’t.
Our emotions can be viewed as a sort of gauge to see if we are in the right vibrational frequency. Everyone experiences feelings of sadness, anger and fear at times, but if those feelings start to dominate, it indicates not functioning within the higher vibrational capacities. Recognizing when you are veering off course allows you to stop those thoughts and use whatever tools you need to return to center. Genuine states of bliss are found in the heart center and are easily accessible with regular practice.by
BAMBOO-When bamboo is baked at ultra-high temperatures, it turns into absorbent charcoal. This charcoal becomes an odor magnet which then draws in bad odors and also hazardous chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, and ammonia.
SALT CRYSTAL LAMP- When the salt gets heated by the low wattage bulb, salt crystals are released into the air and attach to impurities, weighing them down so they cannot circulate and you will not breathe them in. It will also neutralize pollutants and toxins, and it offers light therapy
CINNAMON-studies show that the scent of cinnamon reduces fatigue, makes you feel happier, and increases your attention span.
BEESWAX CANDLES- the beeswax literally cleans the air by producing pollution clearing negative ions
CACTUS-Scientist in Switzerland have discovered that employees who suffer from tiredness and headaches feel more energized if a cactus is placed near their monitors. It is thought that cacti have compounds that counter the effects of electromagnetic pollution and radiation emitted from the screen.
WATER FOUNTAIN-Researchers say the fountains are so effective at cleaning air – they work as well as a HEPA filter.
HOUSE PLANTS-cientists have found that houseplants, like spider plants, and flowers like mums and gerbera daisies can remove up to 87% of toxic indoor air all in one day; this includes carbon monoxide and cigarette smoke. Plants naturally have a built in filtration system that suck in hazardous particles and then neutralize them. Rooms with plants are said to contain half the amount of airborne microbes as rooms that do not have plants.