A Congregational Wiccan Community
CHICAGO WITCHES ENJOY A NIGHT AT THE MOVIES
Center of the Elemental Spirit to attend the Peace on Earth Film Festival
Chicago, IL – March 1, 2013 – For 4 years now the Peace on Earth Film Festival has had a night with Witches, Pagans and Wiccans. “The event, showcasing films about Peace, Non-violence, Social Justice and an Eco-Balanced world speaks to the heart of any religious or spiritual community.” said Marty Couch, founder of Center of the Elemental Spirit. “We have always found some profound messages in the films shown and look forward to this years offering.”
The festival will run this year from March 7 to March 10 and is free to the public. The movies will be shown at the Chicago Cultural Center, Claudia Cassidy Theater, 78 East Washington Street, Chicago, Illinois (bordered by Washington to the North, Randolph to the South, Michigan Avenue to the East and Wabbash to the West).
This year, Center of the Elemental Spirit – A Congregational Wiccan Community will attend on Friday, March 8, 2013. The theme that night is “Latino Night”. The evening will feature 3 movies along with Q&A sessions. “As part of a minority religion” said Couch, “we are always interested to see films about minorities and how they overcome adversity. We are looking forward to another wonderfully inspirational year.” Learn more about Center of the Elemental Spirit at www.meetup.com/ElementalSpirit or at their website, www.CongregationalWicca.com
“Peace On Earth Film Festival (POEFF) is a not-for-profit festival established to celebrate and encourage the work of independent filmmakers from around the world on the themes of peace, nonviolence, social justice and eco-balance. POEFF aims to contribute to a culture of peace through international cinema, dialogue and programming highlighting individuals on the vanguard of peace activism and social change. POEFF endeavors to enlighten and empower individuals, families, and communities to step out of the ignorance of conflict, violence and divisiveness, into the light of communication, consideration, tolerance and understanding.” from www.peaceonearthfilmfestival.org
Press Contact: Marty Couch (630) 674-3297 – firstname.lastname@example.org
He If you were with us last year at the South Side Pagan Picnic you know what a riot it turned in to. It poored buckets of rain.
Luckily for us history doesn’t have to repeat itself. This Sunday the weather so far looks like 90 and sunny. So, make plans to get out to the South Side and visit others in the community. This should be a blast.
All the details are at http://www.meetup.com/ElementalSpirit/events/63876912/
See you there.
It was really strange. I got a call last week from an old friend who is now one of the hosts of World Wiccan Pagan Radio. Who knew there was such a thing. I remember years ago being suprised to learn there was a site like Witchvox. To say we have come out of the closet is an understatement. We have kind of stormed our way out. And the cool thing here is it gives a great way for people getting involved to learn Wicca.
I really feel the face of our religion is changing for many people. More information is available every day and people are finding the information easier and easier. Groups are available for those who would like to meet in person. Anyone who wants to learn Wicca is just a mouseclick away. We are not just a religion that is growing fast. We are a religion that is changing fast as well. I love that technology is keeping up.
My partner Dan had eye surgery this week to correct a cataract. He had his left eye done 2 years ago and this time it was for his right eye. Now Dan is only 38 years old. When we told people that he had to have cataract surgery everyone had the same response. “But he’s so young”.
This made me think back to when I was about 20 years old. Every few months my foot would swell and I couldn’t walk on it. It was like I had broken my foot. I would go for x-rays and tests and by the time we had the results the foot was just fine. One day when this happened, I went to a doctor who I still go to today. She took one look at my foot and promptly announced, “You have Gout”. Again, being in my very early 20’s people said, “That’s so strange that it would happen when you’re so young”. In fact, I believe most of the other doctors missed this diagnosis because of my age. It never even crossed my mind.
As I was thinking about these things this week, it suddenly occurred to me that not only were people commenting on how strange it is for young people to be ill, but how normal it is for older people to become sick in some way. You see, as a society we expect that as we grow old we will grow ill. And if we stay healthy, we are simply lucky.
But is that really the case, or is it just our expectation?
Eli Khamarov said, “The best things in life are unexpected – because there were no expectations.”
So, when we least expect something is when great things begin to happen.
This was proven to me just yesterday. I had done some consulting work a few months ago that was never paid for. I chalked the loss up to “the economy” and had no expectation of getting paid from this client. Now I could have sent letters, made countless phone calls, threatened to sue and so on. But this is someone who has been a very good client and friend in the past and as things “pick up” will likely be a good contact for the future. So, I just forgot about it. I put it out of my mind. Out of the blue, I got a call yesterday asking to make sure my address was the same so he could send a check.
It was when my expectation for not getting paid was forgotten that the unexpected happened. Have you ever had this same type of thing happen in your life?
I was invited a few weeks ago to watch a movie of the life story of Mother Theresa. It was a wonderful film and incredibly inspiring. One of the scenes showed Mother Theresa giving food to a group of children. She promised them they would have more tomorrow. The Nuns asked her how she could be sure and she said, “God will provide”. Sure enough, the next day people were donating food so the children she was helping could eat. What happens in our lives? Do we ever have situations where God, or God and Goddess or Spirit doesn’t provide? If so, what are we doing wrong?
Well, often we do work in ritual toward a goal. But rather than leaving that goal to the Gods to fulfill, we map out everything that will happen on the way to that goal. So, the first time something doesn’t go “as planned” we give up on the entire thing. Our expectation becomes “this won’t work.”
What does all this have to do with transforming our lives through our Wiccan Path? Well, every religion has its ways of learning. For those of the Jewish Faith it’s the Old Testament. For Christians it’s the New Testament. For Muslims, it’s the Koran. For Buddhists it’s the Tao.
As Wiccans we don’t have a book. We may have a teacher, an elder or even a coven. But ultimately they are sharing their own experience. What we have is The Earth. Nature. We learn from the Mother herself about life and all the lessons are there.
So, how does transformation happen in nature?
There are two ways that this typically happens? It happens through growth and through metamorphosis. Growth is the one we are all familiar with. From the moment we were conceived we have been growing in body. From the moment we were born we have been growing in thoughts and ideas. As a child, before you could even speak, you grew. You had no expectation of growth. You were merely following your nature. When a seed is planted the tree is already the natural outcome. The seed doesn’t need to be convinced to grow in to a tree. It only has to follow its nature to do so.
We have been hearing a lot about the economy lately. We are bombarded with unemployment data, credit and foreclosure issues and the insecurity of the financial future. We are being convinced to expect lack. But is there less money today than there was 5 years ago? Are there fewer things that can be bought? Or do we just have different expectations?
There are no fewer blades of grass this year than last year, or the year before or 5 years ago. There are no fewer leaves on the trees. There are no fewer animals with offspring. So, nature is unaware that there is lack. Nature doesn’t get CNN. The Earth hasn’t been told “you might want to save some grass for a rainy day.” Trees have not been told, “Don’t make so many leaves because you never know when you will need them.” Animals are unaware to “put off having children until the economy is better.” So, why have we been able to convince ourselves to expect what nature isn’t even aware of?
In simplest terms, words when they fall upon fertile ground become the definition of a spell. What has literally been happening is the casting of spells upon people and people are willing to accept these spells and allow themselves to be effected by them. We are falling away from the harmony we have with nature into the discord of these words.
It is changing our thoughts, feelings and actions. This is by definition “black magic”.
Thomas Troward in his book The Creative Process in the Individual said, “It is necessary for the Universal Spirit to be always harmonious with itself.” So, there are truly two states of being in the Universe, that of harmony and that of discord. Spirit is always in harmony with itself, so how do we know if we are in harmony with spirit? Well, we must first understand that we are spirit as much as we are any other element. We are spiritual children of the God and Goddess. We are of the same substance that Universal Spirit is. How do we know this? Well, let’s start with an example in music.
When we hear 3 people sing in perfect harmony, it makes our body and soul feel good. We enjoy the sound. It can change us even at the emotional level. But when they are off key, or in discord the sound is unpleasant. We have the inherent ability to tell harmony from discord.
Here’s another example. Have you ever complimented someone and seen them smile? How did it make you feel? Did you stay happy all day? On the other hand have you ever “snapped” at someone? Gotten angry for what later seemed like no reason at all? How did that make you feel? Kindness is in harmony with the Universal Spirit. Anger is in discord.
So, we have discussed growth. Now let’s talk about metamorphosis. Complete change. The most striking example of this is the butterfly. It starts out a caterpillar and goes through a complete change.
Even more dramatic is the tadpole. Through a metamorphosis it becomes a frog. This is more than merely growth. The tadpole grows 4 legs that were not there before, grows lungs that were not there before, it’s gills close, its tail shrinks and disappears, it goes from eating vegetation to a carnivorous diet. This is an amazing transformation. This is what we believe took fish hundreds of thousands if not millions of years to accomplish. Now it happens in weeks.
It is this transformation, or metamorphosis that lead many people to Wicca. We don’t just agree with some ideas or think it would be cool to worship in a nature centered way. We are transformed by the sense of spirituality we discover. We are willing to leave behind our old beliefs and greet new expectations of what it is to be a spiritual being.
Marcel Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
So, how do we begin the transformation of our life? What do we do to start on our new journey? First and foremost we realize that our words matter. Our words are spells.
One of the first things to look at is what “fertile ground” these words, or spells fall on. We normally refer to this fertile ground as the subconscious mind. In understanding the subconscious mind, we must understand that the subconscious mind does not realize anyone exists in the world besides you. In his book The Power of your Subconscious Mind, Dr. Joseph Murphy states “Do not think ill of another for to do so is to think ill of yourself.”
Once we realize that negative thoughts, ideas and words are actually negatives spells we are casting and that our subconscious mind is casting them for ourselves, we realize where many of our struggles that we deal with even today are coming from.
By the same token, any positive thoughts, ideas and words we have are also positive spells we cast on our own life. When we understand and live this, we will begin to transform our lives.
The following is an response I wrote for questions about which tools to use and how to select a patron God and Goddess. The question was initially posted on wiccantogether.com. I hope you enjoy.
Well, the wonderful thing about Wicca and Paganism is that there are as many ways to practice our religion as there are people who are involved. The double edged sword to this is that it gives many the freedom they have been looking for to build a more personal relationship with a higher power (Gods and Goddesses, Elemental Spirit, Etc.) while at the same time leaving a lot of partial or incomplete information out there. This has been more and more the case as time goes on and our community is favoring online research and moving away from covens with strong histories. The good news is the information is more readily available for those who seek it than ever before.
In answer to your first question about tools, all of the tools we need are contained within us. We have the Element of Air in every breath. We have the Element of Fire that is our life force. We have the Element of Water that makes up over 70% of our bodies. We have the Element of Earth in our bodies as well. The Element of Spirit permeates it all. The purpose of any external tool is to help us get in touch with the internal equivalent. An external alter helps us in developing our internal alter. An Athame helps us learn to focus energy and becomes an extension of us. All the tools are to assist us in developing ourselves as a magical person. Often upon meditation you will gain a feel for which ones are appropriate to use at any given time for you in your work.
As far as a patron God or Goddess is concerned, this again differs greatly when you speak with people who practice Wicca. My suggestion is to begin with calling to the God and Goddess in the masculine and feminine qualities you seek to align with. You will know the presence of these Dieties when they join you. As you develop further, you will find that they often “introduce” themselves to you. This can occur when you are reading a book and suddenly realize the God or Goddess being described is the one you have been working with. It can come as a vision in meditation or a dream while sleeping. It could be that you are speaking with someone and they tell you the God or Goddess name of the Diety who has been with you.
One of the most important things to learn on this journey is to trust your own inner voice. That is often the voice connected directly to the Element of Spirit. Spirit will always be a more important guide than any one person. Though Spirit may also put those people on your path.
I hope this information is helpful to you on your journey.
The Spirit in me recognizes the Spirit in you.
Center of the Elemental Spirit
As we head deeper in to the dark (and cold) half of the year, it seems each day I am feeling more my age. But even feeling on the older side myself, it can boggle the mind how old the stuff we are made of (or were thought to be made of) is. So, when we talk of the elements, it seems fair to ask how these ideas came about. And when. Well, fasten your seat belts as we hit the way back machine (Wow, I am old!)
Just as a note, the information in this article is specific to the elements typically used in current Wiccan practice, those of Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit. This article does not cover the traditional Eastern elements such as the Chinese Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water or the Buddhist Void, Water, Earth, Fire and Air. It is important to note that all these concepts came about at primarily the same time and for the same reason, the learned thinkers of the time were trying to answer, “What exists?” For the purposes of our discussion, we will talk about the emergence and acceptance of the European beliefs in the elements.
So, how far back does this go? Well, let’s go all the way back to Greece, say around 600 B.C. The city of Miletus was a prominent center of trade. Because of this, the scholars of that city were likely to have been exposed to some of the philosophies of the East as well as their goods. So it started them thinking. What makes all this? What are we formed of? One of the first to answer this question was Thales of Miletus. He concluded that every thing in the Universe was created from and resolved itself back to Water. Well, there might have been a couple holes in his theory. First, if this took hold we would be saying “River to River, Lake to Lake” instead of “Ashes to Ashes…” But there was an even more critical error in his thinking, according to others of the time. He was not attributing anything that was created to any of the Gods. Hmmm…It should also be noted he never committed any of his theories to paper. Probably a good idea.
So, along comes Anaximander, also of Miletus. He reasons that everything comes from indefinite substance which he termed The Boundless (sounds a bit like Spirit, huh?) and that this substance when acted on produced the other four elements. When it was hot and dry, it was Fire, when cold and wet it was Water, when hot and wet it was Air and when cold and dry it was Earth. Ultimately he reasoned that everything was of this source as opposed to the idea of independent elements. Many, such as Plato and Aristotle had their input, but the one who declared that everything was made of a combination of the four main Elements was Empedocles. Plato was the first to use the term Elements in connection with these four primary building blocks. And the idea really took off. Hippocrates used the Elements to develop his concept of the human body and medicine. He did this by discovering and treating the four humors.
So, mystery solved. Everything in the entire Universe was made of these four Elements. Case closed. We could now go on and no longer question it. Actually, that really is what happened. Through the Roman Empire, the teachings of Christ (when he was just a Rabbi) , the rise of Christianity, The Renaissance, The Hundred Year War, The Black Plague, Wars of the Roses, The Spanish Inquisition, Christopher Columbus, all the way up until 1669. That was the year that a merchant in Germany by the name of Hennig Brand was trying to make a Philosopher’s Stone. The idea was that this stone would turn metal in to gold. Well, accidentally discovered Phosphorus, the first recorded element of the current periodic table.
Now, let’s think about this. For over 2200 years, it was accepted fact that everything was made of some combination of the four elements. This was not a passing fancy. This is what the most advanced scholars of the time were learning and accepting as complete fact. The Alchemists of Europe relied on these principles. The Roman Catholic Church supported some of these concepts. As Wicca and Witchcraft grew in Europe, these concepts were utilized in ritual practice.
This is not small. Our very lexicon is based on this (he is an air head, she has a fiery temper, he is flooded with emotion, etc.) So, why is this so important to us today? Well, have you ever felt a ritual was lacking something? Maybe unbalanced? In need of more power, more energy? When we realize in our ritual that we are not just invoking the Elements because that is what we learned, but rather that we are invoking a philosophy, a belief, a truth over 2200 years old, we are gaining a power to our ritual that is beyond measure.
The reality is, we practice an ancient Religion in a modern time. What was thought of as fact only 340 years ago is thought of as “out there” thinking. But think about it. 340 years ago means our great grandparents parents may have lived when the four Elements were the accepted reality. Many people reading this may have met their great grandparents. This is only 1 generation removed from our current reality. To truly use these ideas and energies in our ritual today is not as big a “leap of faith” as some might believe.
Next time you invoke the Elements for your ritual, take a moment. See these great thinkers and experience the reality of the Elements as it hit them. Feel the connection with these Elements in what you are doing at that very moment. Don’t think of them as abstract concepts, but as real sources of power and energy that have outlasted the ages. Then see if there is a difference in the work you are doing.