Newsletter for October, 1997 ce
October, in theory, is a noticeably cooler month than we’ve been experiencing to date. Such has not been the case so far, making it tough to imagine that Samhain is at the end of this month. We hope that the season is treating you well and fairly, and that all that comes your way is blessed.
The October Open Full Moon will be held on Friday, October 3, at 7:30 PM, at the First Unitarian Church, 1400 Lafayette.
Web of the Universal Mysteries will be officiating a Samhain open full moon. The theme is the many aspects of Samhain observed in various Pagan traditions. This ritual will be done in two parts. Part one will be the main ritual at the First Unitarian Church. Part two will be at a private site to be announced at the OFM to release the charged objects by fire. (Please note that you must attend the first part of the ritual in order to attend the second part.) We ask for your participation by bringing a ymbolic item that can be safely burned at the release ceremony. This act represents the transition you have experienced in the last year. Examples would be: relationship, death of friend or loved one, job changes, spiritual issues, totem or sacred name transitions, etc... Usually we recommend a letter or a written wish, dried flowers or herbs or even a photograph. Be creative and do realize these items will not be returned, for they will be burned.
The Open Full Moon Ritual is a week early this month due to scheduling conflicts with the Unitarian Church. In order to get this newsletter out in time, we didn’t have an opportunity to receive two of our regular columns, Wise Woman Ways and Queer Craft. We should have our regular contingent of articles and columns next month.
A bit of humor for the season
"Will you stop calling me 'Sow', all right? That's a female pig. The name is Sam. Sam, as in SAM".
He whispers that lowly to the woman who has just announced his talk. He clears his throat, and steps forward to address the students, leaving the well-meaning facilitator behind. Someone always ends up slaughtering his name, he ruefully reminds himself.
He's honored to be here, on Religious Freedoms day. This is the day each school brings in representative theo/alogians from all the different religions in the district. Each gets their hour in the sun. It also happens to be October, so there is only one thing on people's minds.
"My name is Sam Hain. Rhymes with 'a-THAME'. That's the gizmo Witches use to slice open apples to show that there are very few really regular pentagons inside. Oh, the pentagon. People are always confusing that with that building down there in Washington — what is it? Yes, the Pentacle. You know, where they've got that demon trapped.
"Oh, yes. Before I get too carried away with all that arcane lingo, let's touch upon some basics. The religion is Wicca. The root of 'Wicca' is 'Wic', and is derived from the word 'Witch'. And, in order to emphasize that letter 'C', the religion is often called 'WitchCraft'. Now, breaking this final word down, etymologically, we have the words 'Itch' and 'Craft'; beginning with the letter 'W'. 'W' stands for Woman, Wit, Wisdom and Woozy. Woozy, you know, like if you drink too much. So, anyhow: Witchcraft is an itchy craft or skill for women, wits, half wits, the inebriated, and the wise. Of course, we are all in the last category — at the very least.
"Okay. The roots of Witchcraft. The roots are to be found in your grandmother's root cellar. Which is to figure. They let some gardener loose, and he either tripped over some practitioners in the woods, or he made it up out of figs and mints, or somewhere in between — your choice. It's appropriate, though — the phenomenal growth of a contemporary earth religion had to be instigated by a gardener."
He acknowledges a hand.
"You don't ride brooms, do you?" asks a youth with a face like a pimple.
He chuckles. "No, no. That myth was invented by the Inquisition. No brooms. Most of us don't keep clean homes, anyway. Too many grimoires, oils and incenses. And the stuff like eye of baby and wing of newt — that went out about the time of Shakespeare. Besides, winged newts went extinct. Nowadays, we're pretty environmental.
"Speaking of the Inquisition (and we all know nobody expects it), the Inquisitors wiped out the entire population of women in Europe. Men had to come up with a kind of a temporary reverse-parthenogenesis for the race to survive. Either that, or it was space aliens. We've got some revisionists out there now who don't believe more than a handful of people were deep-fat- fried by the Inquisition, but they're crackpots. A scarce few others claim that maybe only a relative few were killed for Witch-craft — perhaps in the tens of thousands to maybe a couple hundred thousand. But those numbers seem reasonable, so these figures probably aren't right. The one thing the human race isn't is reasonable, so feel free to pick an extreme in either direction.
"Anyhow, we Witches gather together in covens, or else in herds of solitaries — otherwise known as festivals or networks. Sometimes we meet in gaggles, prides, pods or clutches. We meet once in a while, or whenever the moon is blue.
"A lot of us follow the reincarnation thing. And the truths of ancient lands which rise from the sea. As proof, consider the tales of Atlanta. It's risen from the seas, and even from the land, into a mass of skyscrapers. It's no accident that one of the nation's largest airline hubs is in Atlanta. Gotta provide transportation for all the souls to home in on. And, if you don't think lands can rise from the seas, check out the Midwest.
"Witches give honor to the elements. That's why we can be seen standing out in the rain so often. Our rituals take so long because we usually honor each and every of the 106 elements in the periodic chart, although we often leave out the man-made ones. The anti-nuke crowd leaves out all the radioactive ones as well.
"The religious part is, of course, that we have a plethora of Gods and Goddesses. It's like an herb garden — they're many, they're hardy, some of them are no better than weeds, and most of them come back the next year. Yes, we have our dying and rising Goddesses and Gods. Most important in the Goddess department is the Maid, Mother and Crone. The Crone is the old warty one you got to watch out for, but that's all right — she's got arthritis and might not catch you. The Mother — well, she gives birth to everything, so she hasn't time for much else. And the Maid, hey, she's the one who does the dishes and picks up after everyone."
"What about Halloween?" asks someone else.
"Samhain. Named after me." He pronounces it like his name. "Or maybe it was the other way around. I wasn't around, then. 'Halloween' means 'little hollow'. Hollows were those holes in tree trunks that were such a big deal in fairy tales. Where the Keebler cookie elves live, at least by ill-repute.
"It's one of the Sabbats. There are eight of them. There are the Quarter Sabbats and the Crossed Quarters, and Samhain is a particularly cross Quarter. Almost a Susan B. Anthony Dollar. of the occult world, it's that big and feisty. It's the night when the shawls between the world are thin, which is why it's usually pretty chilly. But we try to go outside anyway.
"It's the night Witches talk to their Dead. There's a reason we collect those little decals with roses and skeletons at music stores. Ever wonder why there are so many of those things? It's us, man. Anyhow, it is permissible to discuss anything you desire with the Dead. Remember, the Dead tell no tales.
"The purpose of Samhain is to prepare for winter. Those of you who are not Witches fill the same task by writing Christmas cards as well as by hiding from the Season of Advertising which begins about then. Well, since we do Yule instead of Christmas, we have other preparations. In the old days, the final crops were taken in. It's the Wiccan end-of-year, our New Year's Eve without streamers and overpriced restaurants. At Samhain, the last crop would be taken in, and that's what folks would eat until spring; mold, rodent droppings, and all.
"The Celtic kids used to knock on doors, just like kids do today. Only then, it was "Trick AND Treat". You were supposed to give the kid something tasty like pudding wrapped in boar's stomach lining, and you were supposed to pull some kind of nasty trick on the kid as well. Think of a drop floor under your welcome mat — the Celts played tricks for keeps. Hardy and lusty sons of guns, they were. If you failed to do a trick of your own, the kid was perfectly justified in thinking something up on his or her own. Note that toilet paper, shaving cream, and rotten eggs are for pikers. Fortunately, we've come a long way since then. However, remember that there is a precedent for that razor in your candied apple. It's a gift from a reincarnated Celt. Witches are too busy partying to do anything like That.
"In fact, we'll party all night long at the slightest provocation. On Samhain our excuse is that midnight is the most magical of the hours. And once one is up that late, one may as well continue. There's a certain somberness about this particular occasion, but we take it in stride. We'll even bob for apples — the game's symbolic meaning is Futility, except for those bobbers with big mouths. We'll wear costumes, so long as they are black. Black's just a Witchy thing: you wouldn't understand. Its meaning is absence, since black is technically the absence of all colors. People who always wear a lot of black wish to bring this sense of the Void into themselves. At Samhain, black is highly appropriate: we often seek to void out the past year like a bad check."
He takes a long pause for air. Attention still seems to be with him, he notes gratefully.
"Okay, so what are we Witches doing today? Well, there's a certain type of politics. You know the old Craft saying, 'If that which you seek, you cannot find it within, you'll never find it without — unless you push.' So we have lots of fun boycotting movies people wouldn't have gone to see in the first place if we hadn't made a stink about them. Darn shame cigars are out of fashion, even if Broomhilda still smokes one..." He fades into a reverie of musing.
"Oh, yes, as I was saying. Witchcraft today. It isn't as picturesque as in the old days. The succubuses, incubuses and abacuses are all down in Club Med, where the rest of us can't afford to go. Glad they can afford it. If they head far enough south, maybe they'll transform the rainforests — 'Make Love, Not Cattle'. Yeah, Witchcraft can be pretty transformative. Not many religions let you bang on rawhide all night and plunk a computer keyboard by day."
He concludes his talk, and leaves to applause, feeling good about having clarified the Craft like drawn butter. Students follow him outside, as he straddles his ElectroLux. They laugh, as he makes verbal vroom-vroom- vroom noises. Nothing happens.
"Drat", he says. "Anyone got a car? And jumper cables?"
Ten minutes later, Mr. Hain and his vacuum cleaner are skybound, circling up and into the clouds.
Originally published in the Samhain 1993 issue of Surrender Dorothy, the Fairfield County (CT) Wiccan (Facowi) Newsletter. Also uploaded to the Religion Forum and to the New Age B Forum of CompuServe, and to the Pagan Message Board on America Online Note: this document precedes the ascendency into national power of any politician with a similar, reptilian, name. I refuse to re-title this on his account. (Document Copyright as Freeware 1993 by Jehana Silverwing,email@example.com. Permission is hereby granted to reprint the text of this document in its entirity. My name and this notice must remain Intact.)
“Books smell … musty and rich. The knowledge gained from a computer … it has no … no texture, no context. It’s there and then it's gone. If its to last, then the getting of knowledge should be tangible. It should be smelly.”
“Rupert Giles” (Anthony Stewart Head) in Buffy The Vampire Slayer (the series.)
I spend a couple of hours a day on the Internet, surfing for information, reading and composing e-mail, lurking on Usenet’s newsgroups. I even tried chat but found my typing skills inadequate (or too adequate, depending on your point-of-view) for the job.
Searching for a recipe on the Internet is like looking for a diamond ring in a gold mine: you’ll find literally thousands of recipes in your requested category, and your job is to hunt down just the perfect one in the lot — the gemstone in a golden band. Go to the recipe search engine at www.kitchenlink.com, then sit back and be amazed.
If there are so many recipes and cooking anecdotes on the Internet, why do I collect cookbooks and food related magazines? After all, these hardcopy products cost money while the Internet costs only what I pay my ISP whether I’m searching for recipes or perusing alt.pagan, and the computer takes up much less room than does my paper collection. Seeking a particular recipe in a book is tedious, even if my all-too-fallible memory is not dwelling on a song stuck in my head — a problem most RAM can avoid. But I persist in buying and reading old-fashioned cooking literature.
Comparing the two experiences, I find that the joy of discovery is different. While no less intense, the pleasure I derive from finding a recipe on the ‘Net is somehow less personal than the feeling I get when finding one in a book or magazine. Perhaps it correlates to the amount of time it took, but I find it takes the same amount of time to search either way. Reading six or seven recipes on the ’Net (even without considering the inevitable access lag between sites) is similar in time spent to grabbing three books and thoroughly scanning the appropriate chapters. Some of my favorite recipe sites are arranged to encourage leisurely browsing, so it isn‘t the casual scanning appeal that makes it different.
And there is no loss of accidental discovery: that wondrous feeling of turning to the wrong page while looking for a stuffing recipe for tonight’s chicken, and finding what I want to make for dinner next Friday. One sneeze, the pointer hits the wrong link, and instead of gingersnaps for tomorrow, I discover macaroons for next month.
I have concluded, in agreement with the sappy quote that opens this article, that it’s the smell and texture of the books themselves that makes the difference. A muffin made from a recipe I found in The Joy of Cooking is no different from one made from the same recipe found on the ‘Net. But the experience of cooking has undergone a profound changes. Gone are the little nuances of books, the sound of the crackling binding, the feel of the glossy magazine paper, the smell of the binding glue. I am ecstatic about the Internet, but I hope we as a people never lose our love for books.
The following recipe is my mother’s. She is not computer-phobic, but she doesn’t understand or care much about things like modems. Consequently, you won’t find this recipe on the Internet. You might find one like this, but never precisely this one:
My mother never even wrote this recipe down. I figured it out from staring over her shoulder as she cooked. So this is as technological as this recipe gets.
Oh, wait ... we put the newsletter on the World Wide Web. So now you WILL find this recipe on the ‘Net.
A Pagan Prayer
Beloved Brighid of the triple flame,
Daughter of the Dagda,
Guardian of the sacred springs
Whose voice is the soul of the harp
We call on thee.
Teach our hands to heal and our hearts to sing.
We entrust our life's progress to your care
and ask that you shape us,
bending and turning our hearts on your bright anvil of flame
till we are made perfect jewels
fit to be set in the eye of your timeless harp
to play for the soul of the people in times of sorrow
and times of celebration.
We thank you for your gifts to us of Poetry and Music
of laughter and tears,
and for the healing balm of your wisdom.
May we always remember to meditate
on the gift of your sacred waters,
which surrounded us at our birth
and sail us to our destiny.
Our hearts are open to receive your blessings.
Midwife of our souls, rain on us,
shower your inspiration in curtains of song
from sacred waterfalls in the realm where you dwell.
Come to us as Virgin with the soft smell of flowers.
Come to us as Mother and feed us your fruits.
Come to us as the Wise Woman in the stark blasts of Winter.
Help us to see your mystery in all creation,
that we may know gratitude and reverence.
Our hearts sing to you with love.
Teach us to change like the revolving seasons.
Teach us to grow like the green corn that feeds the people.
Teach us to fashion beauty like the stillness of the forest pool
and the roar of the ocean wave.
Teach us to heal like the soothing gem which cools the eyes and
restores the limbs.
With humility and bright expectation
We invoke thee this hour!
Welcome to the first installment of what we hope will become an ongoing column. A lot of folk have come to us asking questions about Circles, rites and ritual, most often as a result of attending an Open Full Moon ritual. We hope to answer some of those questions for you, and will try to answer any others that come up in the future.
Please feel free to call, write, e-mail or otherwise drop us a note on any questions you might have, or to provide us with interesting bits of lore that you feel others would like to know about.
Folks, a lot of you are carrying nifty sharp pointy things. We have no problem with athamés, swords, spears, staffs, etc., and feel their use is often proper in Circle. But, be aware that these weapons are often sharp and can cut or hurt someone, and there are novices about who aren’t aware that your tool is dangerous. If you bring any sharp object into Circle, be it an open ritual or closed, be aware that it is your responsibility to ensure the proper use of your tools and the safety of those around you. Blood is so messy to clean up, and we hate to have our participants punctured in any way that they haven’t agreed to. Don’t go swinging a sharp object around willy-nilly. While you might be used to drawing pentagrams in the air, you are not working solitary here and can hurt someone if you aren’t careful. It isn’t a bad idea to occassionaly take the time to “practice” moving with your tools if you plan to be in open rituals, or those where you might be crowded. It is an excellent meditation technique to move with your athamé using motions similar to Tai Chi, and also visualize every point along the traveling arc that your blade moves within. For those who don’t care for such meditations, just move carefully, watch where you are putting your tools, and plan each move with those around you in mind.
Do you like to write? Do you have a favorite subject that you have studied and/or experienced? Do people come to you on advice and expertise on some bit of Pagan lore?
We are looking for folks who would like an opportunity to present their ideas to the Pagan community that reads the Hearthstone Community Church newsletter. We are especially interested in those who would consider writing monthly columns or continuing articles, although single articles are quite welcome, too. We want to make this newsletter more entertaining and informative for everyone, and you might be able to help.
Writing for a newsletter takes a degree of effort, and to be successful, should be a labor of love about a subject that is near and dear to your heart and Path. Unless it is a short-run column or subject, please realize that this will be a year-long effort (at least) and require around 13 submissions per year.
The average page in the HCC newsletter is about 700 words, give or take nifty formatting tricks. Ideally, most columns will fit evenly on one or two pages. Anything less than one or two pages can be easily filled, but over-long articles can be a bit of a problem with keeping printing and copying costs down (this is a free newsletter, after all). Once a column has been created, the length should be consistent, however, since we will allocate space to it after it's created.
If you would like more information, please ask us for our writer’s guidelines.
(Please note, however, we do reserve the right to reject material that is not in keeping with the spirit of this newsletter. What we are about is building community, not providing a soapbox, and certainly not a forum to express one’s personal affronts or general unhappiness.)
Please be aware that we will no longer have access to the nursery. Due to a lack of adult volunteers, we have removed the child care area from our lease.
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