Fluffy Bunny, How Pagans Bully

“That group is full of fluffy bunnies, look at their cloths!”

“She is such a fluffy bunny, I can’t carry on a conversation without her insisting Margaret Murray’s Witch Cult was real.”

“Oh, I’m not a fluffy bunny. I embrace the dark and the light.”

fluffy (1)

  Upon entering a new community you start to pick up on the lexicon, different terms used to express ideals, stereotypes, and common experiences.  The same is true with Pagan communities, whether online or in real life you learn the difference between a bolin and an athame fairly quickly; but what about insults. Words thrown around to distinguish the others or less then. The ones you are not. You will hear them but are they always defined?In Christianity you will hear someone called a “rainy day Christian” or a “Christmas Catholic” both are terms used to describe a believer who only shows up to service when it suits them. In Paganism we may have a similar term, but an even more hurtful insult is being called a “fluffy bunny”. I have seen the fluffy bunny insult used in three different ways but it always is meant to distinguish an individual or group that is not authentic or a real Pagan.

The three common uses for the term fluffy bunny are: 1. The first and most common is to describe the dabblers, or the Pagans that have read one book and they know it all (IReadits) and the fad followers. These are the ‘kids’ (can be adults) who wear all the jewelry they can get their hands on and buy up all the fancy tools. 2. The second are the Pagans that don’t like to think about the dark side. The Pagans who are all rainbows and sunshine and never would talk about the negative. Peace, Love and keep all the underworld away from me. 3. The third are the Pagans willing to throw away all recent historic findings to embrace the rhetoric brought forth in the early years of Neo Paganism. These Pagans refuse to hear about the Burning Times, Gerald Gardner,  and Margaret Murray in any capacity then how they see it.

fluffy-bunny3

You will encounter people who fit in to these three stereotypes and want to call them a fluffy bunny. You will hear other Pagans use the term and now know what they mean, but should you repeat it? With Neo-Paganism being so open to all walks of life and personal interpretation do we even have the right to bully others for practicing in a different way or choosing what they are about? I had a hard time dealing with the “Wiccans” described in the most common use of fluffy bunny when I was younger. I believed not only “Fluffy Bunnies are frequently attracted to Wicca for the sake of appearance” but anyone in my age range was as well. Anyone in my school who said they were Wiccan got lumped in with the goths, emo kids, and attention seekers. If I knew the term I would have spat it at them just as frequently as I was called a weirdo and loser.

Image result for fluffy bunny pagans

Which brings me to my point. As teens most of us were bullied. We know the sting for being called names and as teens expect it. As adults, in a complicated community that does require some level of maturity to participate should we be throwing around insults like fluffy? I agree the “fluffiness” needs to combated, but how many people who are insulted for a lack of knowledge suddenly become deadly serious to learn? Instead of insults and saying behind these bunnies backs they are”air-headed idiots more at home in a Walt Disney cartoon than in the Pagan community” Why can’t we give the opportunity for dialect and education?  I bet some of these fluffy bunnies were never given the opportunity to brush down their fur.

Sources:

http://wicca.cnbeyer.com/fluffy.shtml

http://www.sacred-texts.com/bos/msg0019.htm

Blessed Be,

Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at autumn.ironwolf@gmail.com

 

 

High and Low Magick

At my first Pagan gathering I was sitting around the sacred fire with the High Priestess of my coven and few others who, like me, were unwilling to move from the warmth of the blaze. When, a class just happened to be scheduled for that location began; the class was Magick 101. Since I was already there I decided to stay in my seat and listen politely to the instructor. The first thing the instructor did was ask each of the people around the fire their level of knowledge. Some people where members of different covens, others were solitary, and I was honest about being new to my coven and serious study. The next thing the instructor did was ask “What is the difference between High and Low Magick?”

Que me slinking farther in to my blankets and hoodie, it was going to be a long class discussing the same information I just wrote a three paragraph essay on for the woman equity buried in microfiber beside me. The instructor looked around the circle, and the second answer he received is one I remember shaking my head to. The High Priest of I don’t remember coddled his answer in the form of a story with an ending moral of High Magic was when you impose your will on someone else. I guess I was to noticeably surprised, or disused by the implications of his answer since I felt two pairs of eyes on me. My High Priestess wanted me to speak up and the instructor wanted the “new girl” to give a go. I untangled my moth from my cave of fuzzy materials to be heard and gave a short one sentence answer, before like a grumpy dragon retreating to her cave gave the instructor the floor to continue. I will not be giving you readers just the one sentence answer I spewed on that 19°F October afternoon. Instead lets brake down these forms of magick to understand better what they are.

Low Magick also referred to as Nature Magick, is any magick performed using tools of nature to incite change on this plane of existence. High Magick is ceremonial magick intended to bring the practitioner closer to deity. Normally very strict in performance or done on the astral plane. So, as you can see the high/low is not in reference to a hierarchy but the plane in which the magick is intended to affect. Almost all magick a witch performs can be considered Low Magick.

Historically speaking Low Magick was preformed by the healers and cunning folk of the village. You needed your crops blessed, your child healed, the pests out of your home; the magick preformed was to affect your plane of existence and preformed by someone of similar social standing as you. So, another way to look at why they are distinguished in High and Low is noticeable. High Magick took training and time, everything had to be preformed perfectly, and the magician was of high stature. Not to be bothered with issues of the common folk but communing with the Gods for King and State.

The first book Gerald Gardner published on Wicca was “High Magic’s Aid”. Published at the time as fiction, Gardner’s book divulged methods of Magick he learned from his time with the Golden Dawn, and how modern pagans open and release circle can be traced to High Magickal practices. So, where the distinction of high and low is not an indication of strength or one being better then the other, it does assist the practitioner in understanding the differences in both practices.

Blessed Be,

Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at autumn.ironwolf@gmail.com

 

 

The Ethics of Hex and Curses

There has been a lot of talk on and offline lately about hexing and cursing, especially around the Brock Turner rape conviction; and I felt like adding my two cents in. To lay out my biases I am a criminologist and Wiccan. My degree work heavily focused on understanding violent crime and American Criminal Law. I also use magick as a last resort measure, generally waiting for a dire need to ask outside forces for formal assistance. Most importantly, I am on the fence about using hex and curse magick myself. So, when my friends were bringing in books on “Gray Witch Craft” and the internet was a buzz with hexing a known rapist I decided I wanted to explore the ethics of hex magick and what other options are out there for Witches.

The word Hex comes from the German word hexen “to practice sorcery”. In modern witchcraft the word hex is more commonly used to describe a spell cast to cause pain or ill will on an individual or group. Curse, believed to come from Old English crus “a prayer that is evil or harmful” or “to swear profanely”. Today there is some debate that hex and curse can be used interchangeable, but what I found as a more interesting use is describing hex as a verb and cures as the effect. For the sake of this post I will being using hex to describe a spell with ill intent directed at a person, group, or culture.
As I have mentioned in the post on The Threefold Law a large majority of Wiccans believe in a rule of return. The Threefold Law along with the Wiccan Rede; “an do what yhe will, harm none” (more on that in a later post) maintains for all that believe in it, there will be consistences to knowingly causing harm to another. Because of this, a large percentage of magick practitioners do not use hexes in their practice. However, even in the Wiccan community there is a growing amendment to the Rede to include “harm none, but take no shit”. Adding an argument for using magick to fight back or as self defense. There is also, in the grater pagan community those who do not follow the Rede, or believe in the Threefold Law. Some of these witches do not hex due to personal morality, but what stops or encourages witches that do not have such convictions?
To understand the use of hex magick today one would have to look at what brought about hexing in first place. Byron Ballard described in episode 53 of Down at the Crossroads, hex magick was used by the poor and those outside of the justice system. I believe this was said in a European Middle Ages context, but can be seen to explain different places and times. Such as, the use of hexs in Hoodoo or Voodoo. This statement a lines very well with the witches who are wielding hexs at Turner’s defense of since justice was not done in the courts their magick will bring about a more preferable punishment.
Since the discussion on hex magic has become so heated recently many elders have spoken out againts the use of negative magick. Such as Raymond Buckland, though a Facebook post Uncle Bucky stated his disappointment in the use of negative magick and how the public use of hexing is destroying all the pioneers of Wicca’s work on changing the perspective of modern witchcraft in the eyes of the larger culture. Uncle Bucky underlined the importance of spreading healing and love though magick. So, an alternative to hexing Turner has been to bless the two gentleman who found and caught Turner, or to send healing to the victim. I personally find sending blessings to the people who fight for the rights of victims and help heal the world a more constructive use of my magick then to hex and send anger out to those who tare the world apart.

In conclusion I urge all magickal practitioners to think before doing any magick, good or bad. To remember that it is your responsibility what you do with the power you send out and to be prepared to take what ever comes back. Even if you do not believe in a Threefold Return you should be prepared and understand all of the possibilities your magick could create. After reaching in myself I feel I could not cast a hex, but that should not limit or stop someone who can.

Blessed Be,

Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at autumn.ironwolf@gmail.com

Sources cited in this post include:

Orapello, Chris: Down at the Crossroads, Episode 53 Willful Bane: The Joy of Hex with Byron Ballard.

Buckland, Raymond: Facebook Post June 13th 2016

The Threefold Law is Not Karma

Sometimes referred to as The Rule of Three or The Threefold Return, when a Pagan describes The Threefold Law a comparison is often invoked, such as “it’s like Karma”. Where this comparison may be useful to help non-magical folk understand the basic idea of The Threefold Law; it is not accurate nor respectful to the people who believe in Karma. I believe we, as in Pagans, fall into using this comparison because of two things; we don’t really know what Karma is, and we are using an already respected religious principle to give ourselves validity. I myself have made this comparison and that is why I decided to do my research. What I discovered and hope to share with you is that The Threefold Law is not Karma.

idtukwim

So what is The Threefold Law? First seen in Gerald Gardner’s High Magic’s Aid (1949) “Mark well, when thou receivest good, so equally art bound to return good threefold”and popularized in Raymond Buckland’s writings The Rule of Three is a widely believed guide line in the Neo Pagan world. A more modern verse  “What you put out comes back to you three, times three, times three” written by Scott Cunningham in Wicca, A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. It is described as what ever action or intent you put out into the universe comes back to you threefold. The ‘what’ that comes back to you threefold is defined in a variety of ways, and can change from person to person or tradition to tradition.  Some of the ways the threefold return is believed to occur include; your output comes back in a set of three waves or three different thing happen, three times worse or three times better, or the effects are physical, emotional, and spiritual. If you poll the Pagan community you will find people who believe all of these interpretations work together, only one of them holds true for them, and people who don’t believe or follow in The Threefold Law at all.

rede
A version of The Wiccan Rede by Doreen Valiente

Karma is very different. Not as up for interpretation as The Threefold Law, Karma is a belief system held by many religious sects including Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Sikhism. Coming from the Sanskrit word meaning action, work, and deed Karma is a spiritual principle of cause and effect, yes like The Threefold Law. Also, Karma holds that the actions and intent of individuals’ influences their future. That is where the similarities end. Karma not only effects the individuals future in this life but also determines their quality and circumstance of future lives. Karma has three themes that are seen in all belief systems that hold it; causality, ethicization, and rebirth.

These Karmic themes bring a level of sophistication that The Threefold Law lacks. Starting with causality which deals with the actions and intent. Causality explains for every action there is an effect on karma, intentional or not. Ethicization is the idea that like attracts like. So within Karma ethicization establishes similar return of the intent and actions the individual releases. The effects or return in Karma are two fold; phala and samskaras. Phala is the immediate affects and occur in this life. Samskaras are an affect that occurs to the individuals mindset that lessens the possibility for that individual to experience happiness in the future this life and others. So where some of these ideals are seen in other aspects of Neo Paganism they are not internally present in The Threefold Law its self.

karma
Like how there is Pop-Psychology there is a pop culture understanding of Karma 

 

We know the builders of Wicca were very aware of Eastern philosophy so it is no stretch to believe that The Threefold Law is borrowed in part from Karma, but the builders of Wicca were also constructing a new form of worship in a different culture. So, they might have left more up for interpretation or some ideals from Karma might have been lost in translation at that time. Later showing up as the religion aged. However, this lack or loss of ideas is not a bad thing when it comes to Neo Paganism. A large percentage of Neo Pagan practitioners  came to the craft because of the ability to discover and build their own prescriptive of their religion. This adaptability is the a major “selling point” so why tarnish its individuality by comparing?

What happens when we compare our religions to others is that we are not establishing ourselves on our own terms. If a non Pagan hears about Neo Paganism in the terms of “we are not like them”, “we are similar to them”, and so on. The speaker is relying on the listener’s understanding of these other religions and their feelings or bias of them. If the speaker misjudges the listener’s biases or exposure to the compared religion there will be miscommunication and misunderstanding. If the listener has the same knowledge and feelings of the compared religions as the speaker, then comes away with the ideas of Neo Paganism based on others and not its own belief system. If a comparison is unavoidable to us as speakers are then required to do a lot of ground work to avoid miscommunication.   A future topic will be on how to talk about Paganism with others so please look for that to continue this discussion.

A late but very blessed Beltane to all.

Blessed Be,

Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at autumn.ironwolf@gmail.com

An Altar in Every Room

Creating small inconspicuous, sacred spaces all thought a Witch’s home.

thefaceofvenus

What is with us Pagans and our Altars? I love looking at a clear perfectly arranged space. In fact it causes a lot of hostility in my home, because my roommates don’t have the same need for organization and cleared space as I do. I would say a large portion of my need for cleared space, i.e. uncluttered empty counters and table space, is due to the teachings of Paganism. In every beginners book there is a section dedicated to removing unwanted and unused things. Normally in a spring cleaning or emotional baggage type section. They encourage a working witch to get rid of energy suckers; and that these clear spaces help our thoughts and our magick stay fresh. Maybe when I was younger I didn’t ascribe to that philosophy as much, but now I can’t stand clutter of any kind! Everything I have out on display has a place and gives me nothing but joy and if it is a necessary item that does not bring me happiness with a single glance it better have a place to go where I don’t have to look at it.

As a “compromise” I enforce stringent regulations on my spaces and try to respect shared space. I am really bad at the respecting shared space bit. Now top of that, I have thrown embarrassing tantrums and had fits over my spaces being touched and in prep for spring cleaning I think I found out why. Every space I set up is an altar of some kind that I have devoted a large portion of energy in setting up and caring for. Each one in turn gives me satisfaction on a spiritual level and could be used to invoke certain feelings, Deities, or emotional states. Whether you maintain a standing Altar in you home or not, if you have been in the craft for any length in time you  keep your tools in a certain place in a special way. You know the sting of your magickal space being disturbed and work to prevent it at all cost. You may let others touch your tools but if they have been disturbed out of your presence it’s a brake of trust.

Sryai'scloset        High Priestess Syrai RavenWynd’s (of Circle of the Spiral Moon Coven) “Witchy Closet” The closet door has a lock to keep unwanted eyes and hands out.  This is where a practitioner of the craft for over 2 decades keeps her tools safe.

So, what is with us and our altars? I know a lot of practicing witches who have multiple places in their homes and outdoors that they can go to to recharge their witchy batteries. Why if the Earth is our “church” do we construct these places? Altar construction and devotion is an ancient art found all over the world. Its in our DNA, and if you ask me our ancestors built these physical places of worship for their convenience. The first altars were just as much for spiritual need as much community. These slabs of stone and art that have survived where there for the people. Used as anthropologists and historians speculate for more then religion but politics, education, and Judaical proceedings as well, but in these ancient times all of these communal acts would be considered inter connected. In short the ancestors built these places to bring the people together and to give a place that was everyone’s space and no one’s at all; because they are the Gods’ space.

Moving away from historical speculation and to  Neo-Paganism there is a large focus of altar building. All the books talk about altar decoration and set up and most of us that don’t have a stationary altar wish we did. I personal find myself very lucky after fifteen years of not being able to maintain a constant altar I now have one; and as I have said before have been finding that some spaces I once considered mundane are not so much anymore. If you do not have the luxury of freedom to have a open and stationary altar consider some options.

ostaraalter16                        My Altar currently midway cleaned from Ostara.

Not all altars have to be large and elaborate. I have seen plenty of altars that get the job done on just a small floating shelf. Also, your altar does not have to be just your altar. Sometimes a space has to pull double duty. If half the time your altar is your desk due to space, that is not a problem. Your altar also does not have to be covered in pentacles, and Goddess symbols. A candle and some images of nature can be all you need to know what it is and not freak out your gusts. Also fold out tables that come out only when its ritual time is just fine too. For a long time I had to flatten a TV dinner tray when not in use and then pull it back out when it was time to set the circle.  The main importance hear is to do what you need when you need to and do what you feel works for you. Yes a lot of books will tell you how set up an altar, but most of the advice they are giving is rooted in Ceremonial Magick and that might not work for everyone.

Before I end I did want to share some of the spaces I never planed on making into altars that have organically become so. I have a large garden tub in my master bath.  It is not a shower and tub combo and because of this I have decorated the edges of the tub with candles, large shells, rose quarts, and a marble statue of Michel Angelo’s Birth of Venus (see top picture). The Goddess of beauty and love has infused that space to a place of self care and worship. With the offerings surrounding her the whole tub is infused with love and care whether I am using it or not! My nightstand was a bit of a labor of love to begin with. I wanted a very specific piece of furniture and once I got it I wasn’t going to stop there. I ended up replacing the knobs for much prettier blue and white panted porcine and found a tile coaster that matched.   At home I had two tea lite holders. One blue louts flower and a blue Moroccan Lantern. I was gifted a beautiful purple incense holder and with all of that strategically placed the table gave off a warmth and peaceful vibe.  So even the most simple and mundane places can become magickal and full of spirit. How does your altar look? Make you feel?

This week I suggest music by Onmia.                                                                                                          I can’t get their title track song Earth Warrior out of my head!

Blessed Be,                                                                                                                                                            Autumn Wolfe

 

Wiccan vs Witch

What is the difference?

Yes, this is the topic I decide to tackle as my first blog post and if you groaned at the title maybe I’m not the blogger you are looking for. I decided to take on the task of explaining the difference between a Wiccan and a Witch as my first post not because it is so over done but so my readers get a good first taste on how I view our world. I know this topic is breached in every beginners book on the New Age shelf today, and there are a tone of Wicca beginners books out there. There is a reason for this, you have to start somewhere! I’m not writing a book but I do have to out line some of the basics. If not because there maybe one newbie reading my posts, but for thous of us who already know how we feel about this topic and need to be on the same page going forward.

I am one who believes Wicca and Witchcraft are not the same thing. These words can not be interchanged, and for the life of this blog I will be diligent in not using one in place of the other. With that promise being slapped to my forehead on day one lets get down to defining Wicca vs Witchcraft. Starting with the easier of the two. Wicca has been defined by every author to ever write just a little bit differently. To sum up all these different definitions in to the one that I use, Wicca is a religion that respects the earth as not just the third planet from the sun, but a living and breathing source of life. Deity is imitate, meaning present in all things, and thus all things are sacred. Wiccans believe that to tap into the sacred or communion with Deity they can use magick. Since deity is present in all things and all things are sacred, the power of magick comes from within.

If your still following, Witchcraft, or simply the craft, is the system and practice of magick. Now your wondering why after three sentences Wicca was easier to define. Sit back for me and think of all the instances you have heard the word witch. Take all these preconceive notions of what a witch is and go back to that sentence “Witchcraft is the system and practice of magick”. Simple, no worship of evil, no green skin, or contract with an all evil source required. Just the want to work with the forces inside of yourself and all around you. Yeah sure every little witch wishes they could just wiggle their nose and everything falls into place but we understand that magick (not magic) doesn’t work like that.

Now your wondering, if Wicca is a religion that believes to tap into the sacred they can use magick, and the craft is the system and practice of magick; how is Wicca and Witchcraft not the same? Simple, just because Wiccans hold a belief about magick does not mean they have to practice magick; furthermore Witchcraft has no concept of deity and belief other then magic is real and can be used. So a Wiccan does not need to be a witch to fulfill their religious needs and a witch can easily have any religious belief they want and practice their craft.

These words get so mixed up because most Wiccans also practice the craft. You will hear many Wiccans describe the craft as how they practice there religion. They will also tell you how mainstream religion didn’t fit their needs. Wicca in conjunction with the craft put the power back in their hands and made them feel empowered. However, there are just as many Witches that hold other religious beliefs or none at all. In fact there is a growing movement with craft practitioners who feel the craft is fulfilling in of its self and  consider it their religion. This is how we get Catholic Witches and Wiccans who have never performed a spell.

So, how I define myself is I am first a Wiccan, who practices Witchcraft. I will call myself a witch but to tend to ascribe to Wiccan more strongly. This is not to distance myself from the negative stereotypes, or to legitimize my religion over the practice of other. I make this distinction because I practice magick and am a witch as a consequence of being an active Wiccan. I don’t use consequence in a negative way, I am a witch because the working of magick deepens my spirituality and assists me in communing with my deities. This is a good thing. A blessed thing to be able to learn and grow spiritually and magickly at the same time. Yes, my description of this blog in One Witch. I am describing myself as a witch up there because this is a blog for all pagans and magick users. Where I will have plenty of posts about Wicca, I will mostly speak from a overall pagan standpoint.                                                                    The better to include everyone my dear.

In the end, I define Wicca and Witchcraft as two very different labels one can use to describe where they fall in Paganism. One does not mean the other, and both can thrive separate of each other. It is up to the individual to decide what works best for them. So as my reader I implore you to decide if you agree with my explanation and flesh out what you prefer to call yourself. If you have any topic request feel free to suggest them!

This week I suggest reading:                                                                                         The Complete Idiots Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft                                               by Denise Zimmerman and Katherine A. Gleason

Blessed Be,                                                                                                                 Autumn Wolfe