Monday, March 31, 2008

Locking Our Shields

We think Basra can teach us a bloody lesson in helping our community survive.
Under British control, Basra was a scene of calm. The city and its docks worked. The oil flowed. Then the British withdrew. For over a month the city continued to function "normally" ... whatever "normal" may mean in the Middle East. Then for reasons best known to itself and to the imams, the central government decided that a city with a "different" sect and its own militia could not be allowed to exist.
Chaos ensued--hundreds of deaths.
The Basra no-win situation can be compared to what heppens when one self-appointed section of our own pagan/Wiccan community decides that another section is wrong. Our community combines a vast spectrum of people. There are those who waft around in pretty robes and gossamer wings, calling themselves Lord Everup and Lady Candy-Ass. Such a worldview shades over into more mature behavior when those individuals begin journeying on to La-La Land.
Beyond La-La Land we find more serious practitioners of the Arts on a more serious path, who spend years in putting together well-thought-out magical systems and cosmologies. In some ways these two activities are diametrically opposed. Cosmology in general is concerned with beginnings and with spirituality. Magical systems in general are intended to influence events in this horizontal dimension.
Everyone is on a progressive ladder. Those in their kindergarten-level dress-up phase will graduate--at least that is our hope. Thus we should embrace their activities, just as we should try to support the activities of those who would like to move to higher levels and to expand the boundaries of Wiccan spirituality and technology. The community cannot afford to bite and claw at each other when people out there are lined up to dance on our graves, people waiting to elect stealth candidates to school boards and to government at every level, itching to make this nation into a theocracy on their terms.
So please. Let us take our heads out of our ... centers of gravity ... and administer to ourselves a reality smack. If we don't lock our shields, the fanatics will not need to destroy this community; its own members will do it.
Why did the British succeed in Basra when the American offensive elsewhere was such a dismal failure? The answer lies in their respective attutides and assumptions: The British went in expecting to meet friends. The Americans went in expecting to meet enemies. Why don't we turn our heads around, you good pagans, and start believing that other members of the community might just become our friends instead of our enemies?
In the hope that we can all lighten up, Blessed be each one cuts the others a little slack. Gavin and Yvonne

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Quarterly Observance on the Wheel of the Year

Recently we attended a meeting of the pagan-studies group associated with the Beckley fellowship of the Unitarian-Universalist Association. Today's blog stems from some remarks of the group's leader J. L. and from the discussion that followed.
In this year of the Common Era 2008, Spring Equinox occurs on March 20. In this year the pre-Christian way those other folks use to calculate Easter* has brought the two observances unusually close together.
Ostara is really the time to observe your own private beginning time of year. Samhain is good for shared observances at the full moon nearest November 1, and we Frosts would be reluctant indeed to forgo its observance; but our personal lives might make more sense if we as pagans made our personal new year's resolutions at the vernal equinox, a time when we all want to get out and do things. Join us now if you like, in rolling up your sleeves and reviewing your assumptions. Let's start with a little research.
Easter - Our Oxford Etymological Dictionary says: Easter is derived by Bede from the name of a goddess whose feast was celebrated on the vernal equinox Eostre (related to east) and from the Sanskrit word Usra (dawn).** We are all familiar with the idea of spring cleaning and dawn in the east and the east correlating in our way with new beginnings.
We ourselves have been tilling and planting our small city garden. The task gets us out of the house after a long winter season of short, gray daylight hours and encourages us to put our hands into actual soil ... maybe not a bad thing.
How about not only making new resolutions but also actually doing something?! You might start with a good look at your spirituality, giving a good polish to those things you firmly believe, and sweeping away all that old rubbish that people have been blathering at you since you were born. Sum this up as:
What do you believe, and why do you believe it?
It's just a thought, but it's one we like.
So bright blessings to you who will polish up your spirituality but will also get out into the real world and do something. Gavin and Yvonne
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* Find Spring Equinox. Find the next full moon. Find the next Sunday. That will be Easter. (Do you believe it?)
** Anotehr cognate occurs in the words Ostrogoth (Eastern Goths) and Visigoth (Western Goths).

Friday, March 14, 2008


We are told that blogs are supposed to reflect
* what we're doing in our day-to-day life and (of course)
* the random thoughts that come with that life.
Today's review of the Frost calendar might start with Yvonne's presentation on progressive reincarnation at the Unitarian-Universalist fellowship in Beckley. It was well received, maybe because she made it utterly clear that she was there not to recruit but to reveal a very personal interpretation of reincarnation as a rational process of learning and growth. She gave the same presentation the next week to the Pagan Leadership conference in Christiansburg VA. At that meeting Gavin gave his thoughts too on meditation and stress. You can read that presentation on the Conscious Mind Journal's site.
We traveled to the University of West Virginia in Montgomery to talk with a class in comparative religions about basic beliefs of Wicca. They kept us with questions for 2 1/2 hours. The classroom was full of students who had been well prepared, and thus their questions were at a much higher level than usually happens when we walk in cold. Our gratitude to their teacher and to the class members for their openness.
We're starting a series of detective fiction, The Dancing Detective. The first one of the series combines Termination Tango with Wicked Waltz; galley proofs for it came in from Outskirts Press, so we simply put our life on hold for a week so Yvonne could administer the final nit-picking review. You think you've seen bug-eyed? Whew.
Then two friends from Ohio, Ray and Raven, visited us for a very pleasant weekend. We hashed around all the usual Wiccan topics.
Our old bones feel as if we've done a lot more than the above, but the calendar shows few further entries. This along with the regular aquarobics, ballroom, and a review of French lessons. I don't know what we'd do if we weren't retired. ... or that's what they call it. Hmm ...
Oh, perhaps I forgot to mention we're writing a third book in the detective series: Reprehensible Rumba. You'll be on the edge of your seat.
Blessed be. Gavin and Yvonne
You don't pray in my school,
and I won't think in your church.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

P. Coelho's The Alchemist

When you want something,
all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.
This is a quote from Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist. The question is: Do we believe it or not? If we are here to learn, and we take the statement of Coelho's as fact, we will go further and will achieve everything we desire. But on the other hand, if we are here to learn, it would be more valid to say that the universe puts along our path challenges to be overcome. This way we are to gain knowledge and spiritual awareness.
We all have our dreams. The sad thing is this: that many people don't follow their dream--do not follow the precept "Do what you love; the money will follow." (the book by Marsha Sinetar) In the minds of many, the money must come first--so they do a lot of things they do not love. That makes them angry and stressed out. Then because of their anger and stress, the world is a worse place than before.
Blessed be those who have the courage to face their challenges.
Gavin and Yvonne
PS Kiran Paranjape: Thank you for your erudite correction and for your support. It means a lot.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Derivation of wicca

An ongoing argument* in Craft circles centers on the derivation of the word Wicca. We have always been very fond of the Oxford English Dictionary system, finding sources in which a given word was used and the dates of such usage. Recently there has come into our hands an Oxford Etymological Dictionary dated 1995. It tells us that wicca is an Anglo-Saxon masculine noun (feminine wicce). The Bosworth/Toller dictionary of 1898 CE, cited therein, defines wycce as phytonyssa--probably a typographical error by those two esteemed worthies for the word we know as pythoness.
Wiccan occurred in the laws of Edward and Guthrum (880-890 CE) and in the Laws of King Cnut (1043-1086 CE). There it is related to the Anglo-Saxon wican: to give way, and links to the Norwegian and Icelandic vikja (to push aside, to move, to turn [in the sense of warding off something headed toward you]). From this derivation in turn, it has been tenuously connected to know or know how and to the Sanskrit vedeti (each e with a Latin-style straight line over), thence to the Sanskrit veda.
So, modern arguments aside, we see that it was in use in the time of King Cnut, derived from the ancient vedas of perhaps 3,000 BCE.
Remember: You read it first here. Please don't get arrogant about refuting our scholarship until you can suggest something better, and can cite sources for your claims.
Blessed be those who seek. Gavin and Yvonne
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* among all the others