Happy New Years To All

First off, I want to introduce myself a little bit so that y’all feel more comfortable listening to me ramble on. Then, I’ll  talk in brief about what my year has been like, how that has affected things, and what resolutions I plan to make for this new year!

I’m so thankful to be here writing for all you readers out there; if you will, sit with me and let me share my stories and adventures. I have much to write and lots more still to come, journeys lie ahead that I haven’t even seen coming. If you caught the last post then you’ll know by now this is Hazey and I’m officially The *new* Bad Witch, only here to serve and report on the ‘real bad witches’ I encounter. I think it’s the perfect way to start off a new year and wish all the best New Years Blessings to anyone reading this!

My name comes from my Great-Grandmother’s name mixed with my personality. Hazey. Charming, Eccentric, Out-Spoken, Kind, Challenging, and Loyal. Trusting to a fault sometimes. Unique, young, talented, optimistic and strong willed.

I was born in a small town made of nothin’ but dirt roads and power lines. I moved to the lovely city of Auburn when I was four and have been here since. I went to the local high school and, no, I’m not in college. I am a trained and certified Tattoo Artist and Body Piercer for a living. I have a loving family and the best friends in the world. I have identified as pagan since I was about fifteen. I have always known that I was different than 90% of the kids I grew up around and once I got older, I realized that having conversations with plants and animals was in fact *not strange* and that there are others out there with similar stories and like minds.

This time last year I had been on the search for a teacher. What I found, the person, or being, or whatever you wish to name it, was not exactly what I had been searching for but I didn’t know that yet. I was enchanted and charmed by a Rattle Snake, one you’ll come to hear plenty about in my future writing.

I was planning my wedding, head over heels in love with my soul-mate. The same teacher I found married us in the summer. We spent three beautiful months being married and, at the same time, being turned against each other by people that called us “family.”

Things didn’t work out for the two of us, the stress, the mess, the drama. It was all too much and like a cheap toy, broke under pressure. I was out of a home, a job, and a spouse.

Needless to say, I had to make some pretty big choices and things did a 180. I was feeling down and making my way around town, needing a hand to help me off my knees. Needing someone to shake me, so I would be able to really see. So, I shook myself pretty darn hard, fell face first in what I thought and was told was a huge steaming pile of shite. I think it was just Black Work, getting out the impurities isn’t an easy process but it is a sacred one.

Again, as if I hadn’t gone through enough, my life jumped tracks. Call it what you will, I call it Divine Energy at work. By October, I landed my little arse on the “opponent’s” field and padded up for a hell of a game. I would soon come to see a sadly detailed web of lies a *little* spider had worked so hard to spin for me. In time, all of this will come to the surface. I wept for this spider and wished that it wasn’t so, but nonetheless it was something that was far out of my control.

Now here I am, writing my first blog via my cell phone, headed back to Auburn after my first attempt to get an RV. It didn’t go as planned but I have a strong feeling we can still make it happen. Good vibes and energy appreciated! A year has come and gone and things are finally starting to go the way I would like. We can only wait and see.

I usually never keep my New Years Resolutions I make but this year I vow to put forth my best effort and stay strong to my word.
1. Write more, at least two blogs a week. That’s at the least.
2. Paint more, practice always improves skill.
3. Save money, which means for me trying to resist over-indulging.
4. Be more open minded to others, just because you heard something doesn’t make it true and you’ll never know until you find out for yourself.
5. Putting my trust in the right places for the right reasons. Blind faith is dangerous.
6. Lastly, consume more knowledge and practices of things that interest me and help me on my spiritual path.

I want to thank all of you who are reading this and hope to have a new blog for you soon. I also want to give great thanks to my mentor, Ehsha, who has helped me more than she’ll ever know. I am truly thankful to have such wonderful relationship with you and look forward to all that you can teach me.

Until next time,
Blessed Be and Happy New Year
Xoxo Hazey.

What is Paganism?

Merry Meet!

Okay, so you have this page in front of you.

This can mean one of two things: either you are interested in Paganism and are looking for a little guidance or someone you know (and likely love) is interested in Paganism and you are looking for a little guidance. It can also mean that you are interested in slamming Paganism or “proving” that Paganism is “Satanic.” If you are one of the former, you are in luck! If you are the latter, you might want to click elsewhere since The Bad Witch will go a long way from satiating your appetite.

If you are a parent and your child has announced that s/he feels led to a Pagan path, take a deep breath. The panic induced pseudo-coronary arrest will pass. Before you start jumping the gun, searching The Yellow Pages for an exorcist, calling Christine O’Donnell for advice, or sneaking holy water into your child’s bath, relax and read on. If you give me just a few minutes, I think The Bad Witch can make you feel better.

First, let me introduce myself. I am The Bad Witch. I call myself this (unabashedly in third person) not because I am “bad” or “evil” (whatever those terms mean to you), but because I am not afraid to talk about both sides of the coin. There are plenty of Pagans, lovingly referred to as “Fluffy Bunnies” who only want to talk about “light” and “white” and “good” (please read the Wikipedia entry for “Fluffybunnies”; it will make your heart happy). I don’t live in that world. In my neighborhood, there are harmful things. Lucky for you, I have stumbled into a lot of them and can tell you which pitfalls to avoid – that is, if you want me to. There are also a lot of “Playgans” who use “religion” and “ritual” as an excuse to imbibe in chemicals, in sexual extravagance, and adherent social behaviors. And, of course, there are plenty of “HollyWiccans” out there who believe that Charmed is real witchcraft, that The Craft is the religious equivalent to Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, and that Harry Potter is the Second Coming. I’m not them and I will call them out. Sometimes loudly. In doing so, in my own community, I have earned the nomenclature: “Bad Witch.” I wear it proudly.

Fortunately, this demographic does not make up the whole – or even the majority – of Pagans. (They just tend to be the most visible.)

So what is a Pagan?

In simplest terms Paganism is a set of, typically polytheistic, religions characterized by a connection to and a reverence for nature. (For a breakdown of some “traditions,” have a look at About.com and Llewellyn Worldwide’s article on Chaos Magic.)

The most common forms of Modern Paganism or Neopaganism, as practiced in the West, are, for the most part, descended from Celtic origins. But this paints a broad stroke. There are plenty of Pagan traditions that do not fall in line with Celtic traditions. There are Norse traditions, Egyptian traditions, and Gnostic and Esoteric Mystery traditions, to name a few. And each of those have varying permutations and individual belief systems which stem in all directions. Paganism is as much a personal spiritual path as Islam or Christianity. To try to boil all Pagans in one cauldron is very like the Lutheran calling the Methodist “Protestant.” (There’s my little Reformation joke for you.) There are even plenty of people who consider themselves Pagan and yet do not follow a given tradition. Many Pagans don’t even belong to a group of fellow Pagans (i.e., coven, church, congregation, etc.).

Let me be very clear about one thing: all Wiccans are Witches but not all Witches are Wiccan. Wicca is not another name for Witchcraft. Wicca is specific religious path. It is a mix of various practices, recently put together by Gerald Gardner. The Bad Witch respects Wicca but does not practice Wicca.

Just like all Baptists are Christian but not all Christians are Baptists. Take this example to the Southern variety of the Baptist convention – not all Baptists are Southern Baptists. There are those who practice Witchcraft but do not ascribe to or identify themselves with Wicca (like yours truly).

Further, not all Witches are Pagan and not all Pagans are Witches. Likewise not all Witches are occultists, and not all occultists are Witches. As a matter of fact, many occultists are also Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. Because occult studies focus on “supernatural influences, agencies, or phenomena,” the occult is not contradictory to monotheism and Christianity. After all, The Holy Spirit, angelic influences, and even demonic influences (think exorcism) are part and parcel of many monotheistic religions.

Pagans, as a general rule, revere Nature. Pagans typically live their lives attuned to the cycles of Nature, the seasons, life and death. Because of this, ecological sustainability and anti-cruelty movements tend to be supported vehemently by Pagans. For this reason, many Pagans are vegetarians and Vegans, though there is no “religious” prohibition against eating animal products. As a matter of fact, many pagan practices include hunting as part of their ritual practices.

Pagans tend to see the divine as indwelling in all parts of life: in every tree, plant, animal and object. Pagans imagine the divine immanence of every man and woman. Much like Abrahamic religions, these deities are within us as well as without us; however, unlike Abrahamic deities, Pagan deities are us. And many of us recognize the divine immanence of the dark side of life as much as in the light.

Unlike patriarchal religions, the divine tends to be female as well as male (therefore there is a Goddess as well as a God). The Goddess represents all that is female and the God represents all that is male. But because nature is seen as female the Goddess has a wider meaning. The Gods of the major world religions are imagined as above and apart from nature (supernatural) whereas Pagan deities are natural and stand in for various aspects of nature or human nature.

But it’s not that simple. There is usually also a Supreme Creator, which closely equates to the God of the patriarchal religions. The God and Goddess are existent as divided from and yet one with the Great Spirit, the Supreme Creator, or “Akasa.” There are sub-groups of named Gods and Goddesses called Pantheons. If you can conceptualize the Christian trinity, you can approximate the relationship between Creator, The Pantheon, and humans.

Some Pagans believe in angels and demons and believe that these entities can be summoned, communicated with, and asked for assistance in the terrestrial realm. However, Pagans have no concept of sin or Satan as he is defined in Christianity. Lucifer too.

This means that Pagans have a different conceptualization of demons. For the most part, demons are “lower” beings or “elemental” beings while angels are “higher” beings or “ethereal” beings. Here, higher and lower are not a value judgment but rather a “geography.” Demons have more to do with physical while angels have more to do with spiritual realms. The West has a tradition of valuing the mental and spiritual over the physical, thus the disapprobation of demons. With no sin and no Satan, there is no fiery hell to worry about either. Pagans have their own (rather strict at times) values, ethics, and belief in a system of universal retribution (think “karma”). As a matter of fact, the one almost universally accepted “rule” in Witchcraft is “Harm None.”

Pagans typically have a very strong moral compass. Simply because there is not a “Bible” does not mean that we do not have sacred texts – we have plenty. Simply because we do not have ten commandments, does not mean we don’t have rules. Think about it – all of the Judeo-Christian social commandments (the second five) would be unnecessary if we just followed the one rule: Harm None.

Which brings me to the afterlife (should I rephrase that?). Christianity imagines life and the world as linear i.e. having a beginning (creation) and an end (day of judgment). The Pagan view is predominantly circular – the endless cycle of the seasons, of death and rebirth. Each Pagan has his/her own view of creation ranging from hyper-scientific to utterly mystical to a blend of both. For instance, The Bad Witch sees science as the most mystical of all arts and identifies The Great God most easily when exploring arithmetic and physics – ooooooh, quantum theory is theology for me.

There tend to be far fewer hang-ups in Paganism as well. Pagan children tend not to suffer from homophobia, racism, jingoism, or xenophobia than their mainstream peers. My fifteen-year-old son likes to point out that “When you are part of the persecuted group, it makes you pretty accepting of others.” Pagan families tend to be passivist. But Pagans also serve in the military and own weapons (some of us reluctantly); some Pagans even hunt (many tribal Pagans see hunting as a large part of their identity).

Sex and nakedness are not usually the taboo subjects that they can be in the major religions. After all they are merely part of nature. Some Pagans worship “skyclad” (nude) but many do not. I do not. Typically skyclad ceremony are reserved for Wiccan high ritual when altered states of consciousness are achieved (via chant, drumming, dancing). Many Wiccans believe that clothing interferes with the biorhythms that are necessary for heightened consciousness. Therefore, no one is “looking” at anyone else’s nakedness. If anyone were to attend a skyclad rite in order to peek-a-boo, they’d find a Catch 22. The point of nudity is to achieve altered states; in an altered state, boobies don’t exist.

But don’t take this as a catchall. There are some traditions, like Voodoo, that prohibit nudity in ritual.

Generally, children do not get involved in rituals until at least 16 years old. The Bad Witch insists on the “age of majority.” In my state, this is 19. However, often, the children of Pagan families join in festivals such as dancing round the Maypole at Beltane (Bel-tah-nah) or round the bonfire on Lammas (Lah-mahs) – also called Lughnasadh (Loog-nah-sah), on Samhain (Sow-han), or on Imbolc (Im-bolk).

Pagan children are often very aware of the differences their families have from the surrounding culture. Many Pagans encourage their children to “keep a low profile” because the discrimination against Pagans remains palatable in theU.S.(and The Bad Witch lives in The Deep South to boot). The anti-Pagan sentiment in most American towns can be painful to adults, let alone growing young people. And it’s pretty ridiculous to ask a pre-teenager to defend things like making a corn dolly or lighting candles to Bridget. Most Pagan children still get Santa and they tend to understand the Jesus thing. But, they are likely familiar with the fact that the Christmas tree (Yule tree) is really a Pagan thing. Easter is a lot more Pagan than Christians tend to understand. On Samhain, Pagan children understand the reason all the other children are dressed in costumes, lighting Jack-o-Lanterns, and collecting “treats” from their community.

Finally, and this is a point of semantic contention, Pagans usually believe that there are varying levels of abilities. Some are more intuitive, some are more intellectual. Many witches believe that there are some hereditary elements to these propensities, just like everything else. If your father was a great musician, you will likely have more musical ability than any other Joe on the street. Whether this is genetic or based on upbringing and childhood surroundings, it doesn’t matter. Witches sometimes identify themselves as “born,” “generational,” or “taught.”

This may be why you (or your child/spouse/friend) feels a certain pull toward Paganism. While for many of you this attraction to Paganism reflects a rejection of dominant religious dogma and its accompanying fetters, some of you feel a true “calling” to this path. Who knows, it could be ancestral.

As ever, if you have any other questions, feel free to contact me at abadwitch@yahoo.com. I’ll do my best to provide some guidance.

Blessed be!

Much of this is The Bad Witch’s opinion and personal experience with folks in and out of the Craft. Take it or leave it.

Further reading (first set of listings are for information – later set is stuff The Bad Witch just loves):

http://www.amazon.com/Teen-Witch-Wicca-New-Generation/dp/1567187250

http://www.amazon.com/Spiral-Dance-Rebirth-Religion-Anniversary/dp/0062516329/ref=pd_sim_b_23

http://www.amazon.com/Ride-Silver-Broomstick-Generation-Witchcraft/dp/087542791X/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_b

http://www.amazon.com/Wicca-Solitary-Practitioner-Authors-Shadows/dp/0875421180/ref=pd_sim_b_6

http://www.amazon.com/Witchdom-True-Edred-Thorsson/dp/1885972121/ref=cm_syf_dtl_pl_1_rlrssi0

http://www.amazon.com/Grimoire-Modern-Cunning-Folk-Witchcraft/dp/0984330216/ref=cm_syf_dtl_pl_4_rlrssi0

http://www.amazon.com/Wyrdworking-Saxon-Sorcerer-Alaric-Albertsson/dp/0738721336/ref=cm_syf_dtl_pl_10_rlrssi0

http://www.amazon.com/Way-Wyrd-Brian-Bates/dp/1401905013/ref=cm_syf_dtl_pl_14_rlrssi0

http://www.amazon.com/Witches-Bible-Complete-Handbook/dp/0919345921/ref=cm_syf_dtl_pl_15_rlrssi0

http://www.amazon.com/Lyblac-Anglo-Saxon-Witchcraft-Wulfeage/dp/1861632878/ref=cm_syf_dtl_pl_17_rlrssi0

For further growth:

http://www.amazon.com/Initiation-into-Hermetics-Franz-Bardon/dp/1885928068/ref=cm_syf_dtl_pl_23_rlrssi0

http://www.amazon.com/Liber-Null-Psychonaut-Introduction-Chaos/dp/0877286396/ref=cm_syf_dtl_pl_26_rlrssi0

http://www.amazon.com/Energy-Work-Healing-Spiritual-Development/dp/1571745408/ref=cm_syf_dtl_pl_29_rlrssi0

Hush, Hush

The very first lesson that I share with my students is the importance of silence.

Of course, we don’t literally set fire to witches anymore but I have known plenty of people who have been burned by the judgment or ridicule of others. So, there is a very “real world” reason to maintain silence and anonymity. This doesn’t mean that I support hypocrisy. If someone asks me what my religious beliefs are, I tell them. However, I do not advertise. I also regularly wear a silver pentagram or an eternal Goddess pendant. Both are subtle enough to identify me only to those who understand the symbols. I encourage my students to do likewise inasmuch as they are comfortable. I live in the Deep South. I know that one can loose one’s job because of one’s religious beliefs and have little to no legal recourse. Court judges often rule according to their religious beliefs; and they do so openly. It isn’t Constitutional, but it happens.

Aside from avoiding judgment, both in and out of the courtroom, there are other reasons to maintain silence. Many practitioners will tell you that they maintain a practice of silence to protect a coven secret or rite. This is all very appropriate and should be respected.

More importantly, I think, a reason to keep silent involves the nature of magic and of spoken language. For me, to speak is to conjure. Derrida and Lacan knew this. Power resides with those who control language. We can subvert language and we can evolve language, but we only do this because it is language that gives us power. Most popular representations of the magician involves a “magic word”: think of Disney’s many magical characters, the Harry Potter series, “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” and almost any TV show or movie involving witchcraft (I particularly remember “Shazam” from the 1970s).

If quantum physics is your thing, a reason to keep silent is to refrain from collapsing the wave.[1] The universe is full of incongruities; all of our natural laws have exceptions. This too is a Mystery. For this example, consider the way a wave is immeasurable. Attempt to confine it to measurement and it collapses. Likewise, if you attempt to contain will to word, it is limited by measurement and also collapses. Language is always insufficient. Therefore there will always be “that which cannot be told.”

Another reason to maintain silence is that one of our basic doxologies is “To Know, To Dare, To Will, To Keep Silent.” This, a statement pre-dating the sphinx, is one of the Keys to The Great Mysteries.[2]

We say that to be the magus, we must “know” what must be done, we must control our “will” in action, we must “do” what is required, and we must “keep silent” with wisdom.

  • We must always exercise control over ourselves, over our will.
  • If we do not know, we must learn.
  • If we do not know, it is foolish to dangerous to dare.
  • Likewise, if we do not know, to exert our will power is both exhausting and maddening.
  • In order to dare, we must have the will.
  • It is always appropriate to keep silent.

Some practitioners believe that speaking a thing changes it. Like the wave function collapse explained above, many believe that confinement to spoken language can “ruin” a spell. This is not to say that language is not used for spell-crafting. But in the instance of casting, language is used in conjunction with the will. This makes the words carry the will rather than the literal meaning of the word. Yes, this is a Mystery. But if we are in causal conversation without the power of will, we are lessening the power of the spell.

Some practitioners believe that speaking a thing makes it so and will never talk of magical affairs without first casting a protective circle. Whenever two or more witches are together and start talking about magic, for fear of “drive by” casting, you are likely to find one who will insist on some witchy prophylaxis. Words are thoughts and thoughts are things. We create every time we speak.

I believe all of these things and then some. For so many reason, I encourage you to keep your silence. Protect it. Nurture it. Enshroud it. It is always possible to reveal a thing – it is almost impossible to re-conceal it. As they say, you can’t un-ring a bell.


[1] I won’t pretend to be a physicist. While I understand the concept of wave function collapse, my understanding is so tenuous that I dare not try to put it in lay terms. While there are a number of more complex explanations available on the web, I recommend looking at the issues involving Schrödinger’s Cat as well as this simple explanation on Yahoo! Answers. http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100523160818AA1Hfdz

[2] What are the Great Mysteries, you ask? This refers to any number of Mystery religions that involve a sort of “initiation.” The word “Mystery” translates to “secret rite or doctrine.” Therefore, one who practiced “Mysteries” is referred to as a “mystic.” The specifics of these religions are kept “behind closed doors,” or “secret.”