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Blessed Samhain!

The Celtic year was separated in to two halves, the Dark and the Light. The Celtic New Year, Samhain (pronounced Sow-wen) takes place on October 31st or November 1st and marked the beginning of the Dark half of the year. Beltane, which takes place on May 1st, marks the beginning of the Light Half. While Beltane was a huge festival, most believe that Samhain was the more important of the two as it marked the beginning of an entire new year cycle. While our days are ruled by set hours and times, the Celts measured days starting at sundown and going through to the light until it was dark again. It was understood that in dark silence comes whisperings of new beginnings, the stirring of the seed below the ground. Whereas Beltane welcomes in the summer with joyous celebrations at dawn, the most magically potent time of this festival is November's Eve, known today as Halloween.

The word Samhain, comes from the Scots Gaelic word Samhuinn, which litterally translated means "summer's end."  In Scotland and Ireland, Halloween is known as Oiche Shamhna, in Wales it's Nos Calan Gaeaf, or the eve of the winter's calendar.  With the rise of Christianity, Samhain was changed to Hallowmas, or All Saint's Day to commemorate the souls of the blessed dead who had been canonized that year. So, the night before this celebration became known as Halloween, All Hallows Eve or Hallantide. November 2nd, became All Souls Day, a day when prayers were to be offered to the souls of all who departed and those who were awaiting entry to Heaven in Purgatory. Throughout time the Pagan and Christian traditions inevitably became intertwined and celebrations have been known to extend from October 31st through November 5th...

In the country, Samhain marked the first day of winter, when the herders led the cattle and sheep down from their summer hillside pastures to the shelter of the stable. The hay that would feed them during the winter must be stored in sturdy thatched ricks, tied down securely against storms. Those destined for the table were slaughtered, after being ritually devoted to the gods in pagan times. By this point, all the harvest must be gathered in -- barley, oats, wheat, turnips, and apples -- for come November and winter to follow. Popular belief was that the faeries would blast every growing plant with their breath, blighting any nuts and berries remaining on the hedgerows. Peat and wood for winter fires were stacked high by the hearth. It was a joyous time for family reunion after a long year of working the flocks and fields. The family would now come together together baking, salting meat, making preserves and readying for the winter to come.

In early Ireland, the people of the different gathered at their ritual centers, for Samhain was the first and most important calendar feast of the year.  The greatest assembly was the 'Feast of Tara,' focusing on the royal seat of the High King as the heart of the sacred land, the point of conception for the new year. In every household throughout the land, hearth-fires were put out as all waited for the Druids to light the new fire of the year -- not at Tara, but at Tlachtga, a hill twelve miles to the north-west. It marked the burial-place of Tlachtga, daughter of the great druid Mogh Ruith, who may have been seen as a goddess in her own right through past ages.

As with all the turning points of the Celtic year, the gods drew near to Earth at Samhain. So, many gifts would offered up in thanksgiving for the harvest.  Objects meant to symbolize the personal prayers & wishes of supplicants or ailments to be healed were cast into the high dancing flames and at the end of the ceremonies, brands were lit from the great fire of Tara to re-kindle all the hearth fires of the tribe. This was a time of renewal, new beginings, surely as people received the flame they felt a sense of the kindling of new dreams, projects and hopes for the year to come.

Through the centuries the Samhain fires continued to burn.  In the 1860s the Halloween bonfires were still so popular in Scotland that one traveler reported seeing thirty fires lighting up the hillsides all on one night, each surrounded by rings of dancing figures, a practice which continued at least up til World War One. Young people and servants lit brands from the fire and ran around the fields and hedges of house and farm, while community leaders surrounded parish boundaries with a magic circle of light. Afterward, the ashes from these fires were sprinkled over the fields to protect them during the winter months -- a practice which of course, also improved the quality the soil. The bonfire provided an island of light within the oncoming tide of winter darkness, keeping away cold, discomfort, and evil spirits long before electricity illumined our nights. When the last flame sank down, it was time to run as fast as you could for home, raising the cry, “The black sow without a tail take the hindmost!”

Even today, bonfires light up the skies in many parts of the British Isles and Ireland at this season, although in many areas of Britain their significance has been co-opted by Guy Fawkes Day, which falls on November 5th, and commemorates an unsuccessful attempt to blow up the English Houses of Parliament in the 17th century. In one Devonshire village, the extraordinary sight of both men and women running through the streets with blazing tar barrels on their backs can still be seen! Whatever the reason, there will probably always be a human need to make fires against the winter’s dark.

Today many of these customs and traditions may seem moot. Thanks to electricity and central heat, the majority of people no longer have even a working fireplace, although some do continue to use them as a decorative piece or in addition to more modern heating units. But, because of this general lack of hearth, the practice of dowsing the flames and relighting from a central or ritual flame has all but died out. However,  these customs have been altered and "miniaturized" by many in order to allow them to be used by modern day Pagans. Bon Fires may not light up the skies as they did in olden days, but alter fires and candles continue to burn through the night on Samhain Night as a way to ward off the cold and welcome the Dark Half of the year.

For those who have gardens, this is the time of year to finish bringing in any final "harvest" and ashes from any alter fires are mixed with the soil in order to protect. Offerings and "Prayer Items" are made to the gods and the new year is ushered in with celebration and light. This is also the time of year used by modern Pagans, as it was for those of olden days, to honor the previous year and those who had passed. It's a time for remembrance and honor as well as a time for rebirth and renewal. In addition to small alter fires and offerings, common practices include divination, mute dinners, which often include place settings for those ancestors to be honored during ritual, and of course pumpkin carving, costumes and trick or treat are common day practices among both Pagans and non Pagans alike...

For Wiccans and similarly believing Pagans, this is also a time of year used to honor the Crone and the Dying or Dead God. Any of the deities which represent these aspects may be used for ritual purposes.

The secular world lists January 1st, as the "New Year" and for those of us who have to live in that world - which as far as I know, is all of us, it is. However, a growing number of Pagans use Samhain in many of the same ways that more secular persons use New Years Day to celebrate the rebirth of the year... Setting new years resolutions and offering them up in their fires. For children, I have found this to be a wonderful way to start the celebration, and also a good way to teach commitment by renewing those resolutions come the secular New Year in January...

Magickal Correspondences: Samhain

Other Names:  celtic ~ Summer’s End, pronounced “sow” (rhymes with now) “en” (Ireland), sow-een (Wales) – “mh” in the middle is a “w” sound – Greater Sabbat(High Holiday) – Fire Festival Oct 31-Nov 1(North Hemisphere) – Apr 30-May 1 – The Great Sabbat, Samhiunn, Samana, Samhuin, Sam-fuin, Samonios, Halloween, Hallomas, All Hallows Eve, All Saints/All Souls Day(Catholic), Day of the Dead (Mexican), Witches New Year, Trinoux Samonia, Celtic/ Druid New Year, Shadowfest (Strega), Martinmas or Old Hallowmas (Scotttish/Celtic) Lá Samhna (Modern Irish), Festival of the Dead, Feile Moingfinne (Snow Goddess), Hallowtide (Scottish Gaelis Dictionary), Feast of All Souls, Nos Galen-gae-of Night of the Winter Calends (Welsh), La Houney or Hollantide Day, Sauin or Souney ( Manx), oidhche na h-aimiléise-the night of mischief or confusion(Ireland), Oidhche Shamna (Scotland)

Rituals:  End of summer, honoring of the dead,scrying, divination, last harvest, meat harvest

Incense:  Copal, sandalwood, mastic resin, benzoin, sweetgrass, wormwood, mugwort, sage, myrrh or patchouli

Tools:  Besom, cauldron, tarot, obsidian ball, pendulum, runes, oghams, Ouija boards, black cauldron or bowl filled with black ink or water, or magick mirror

Stones/Gems:  Black obsidian, jasper, carnelian, onyx, smoky quartz, jet, bloodstone

Colors:  Black, orange, red

Symbols & Decorations:
  Apples, autumn flowers, acorns, bat, black cat, bones, corn stalks, colored leaves, crows, death/dying, divination and the tools associated with it, ghosts, gourds, Indian corn, jack-o-lantern, nuts , oak leaves, pomegranates, pumpkins, scarecrows, scythes, waning moon

Foods:  Apples, apple dishes, cider, meat (traditionally this is the meat harvest) especially pork, mulled cider with spices, nuts-representing resurrection and rebirth, nuts, pomegranates, potatoes, pumpkins, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, roasted pumpkin seeds, roasted pumpkin seeds, squash.

Goddesses:  The Crone, Hecate(Greek), Cerridwen(Welsh-Scottish), Arianrhod(Welsh), Caillech (Irish-Scottish), Baba Yaga (Russian), Al-Ilat(persian), Bast (Egyptian), Persephone (Greek), Hel(Norse), Kali(Hindu), all Death & Otherworld Goddesses

Gods:  Horned Hunter(European), Cernnunos(Greco-Celtic), Osiris(Egyptian), Hades (Greek), Gwynn ap Nudd (British), Anubis(Egyptian), Coyote Brother (Native American), Loki (Norse), Dis (Roman), Arawn (Welsh), acrificial/Dying/Aging Gods, Death and Otherworld Gods

Herbs and Flowers:  Almond, apple leaf , autumn joy sedum, bay leaf, calendula, Cinnamon, Cloves cosmos, garlic, ginger , hazelnut, hemlock cones, mandrake root, marigold, mums, mugwort (to aid in divination), mullein seeds, nettle, passionflower, pine needles, pumpkin seeds, rosemary (for remembrance of our ancestors), rue, sage, sunflower petals and seeds, tarragon, wild ginseng, wormwood

Animals:  Stag, cat, bat, owl, jackal, elephant, ram, scorpion, heron, crow, robin

Mythical Beings:  Pooka, goblin, medusa, beansidhe, harpies

Essence:  Magick, plenty; knowledge, the night, death & rebirth, success, protection; rest, new beginning; ancestors; lifting of the veil, mundane laws in abeyance, return, change

Dynamics/Meaning:  Death & transformation, Wiccan new year,wisdom of the Crone, end of summer, honoring, thinning of the veil between worlds, death of the year, time outside of time, night of the Wild Hunt, begin new projects, end old projects

Work:  Sex magick, release of bad habits, banishing, fairy magick, divination of any kind, candle magick, astral projection, past life work, dark moon mysteries, mirror spells (reflection), casting protection , inner work, propitiation, clearing obstacles, uncrossing, inspiration, workings of transition or culmination, manifesting transformation,creative visualization, contacting those who have departed this plane

Purpose:  Honoring the dead, especially departed ancestors, knowing we will not be forgotten; clear knowledge of our path; guidance, protection, celebrating reincarnation

Rituals/Magicks:  Foreseeing future, honoring/consulting ancestors, releasing the old, power, understanding death and rebirth, entering the underworld, divination, dance of the dead, fire calling, past life recall

Customs:  Ancestor altar, costumes, divination, carving jack-o-lanterns, spirit plate, the Feast of the Dead, feasting, paying debts, fairs, drying winter herbs, masks, bonfires, apple games, tricks, washing clothes

Element:  Water

Gender:  Male

Threshold:  Midnight

So you want to be a Paranormal Investigator?

Over the past few years there has been an explosion of "Paranormal Investigative" shows and videos come out. The interest this has raised in the general public is without question higher now than it has ever been in the past. I personally find many of these shows to be very entertaining, my husband and I watch them a good bit. However, because of the experiences I have doing investigations myself, and my own education about subjects such as spirits, ghosts, demons, angels, energy, hauntings and so forth I tend to see as much fiction in these shows as I do possible fact.

Please do not take this to mean I don't believe some of these people are experiencing things of a paranormal nature, because I don't see it as impossible. However, I tend to see many of these shows as to quick to jump to a paranormal explanation rather than willing to look for a more mundane answer to what they are feeling, seeing or hearing. But since many of these shows take place in places where activity is documented over a number of years from a large number of people, it's understandable that there very easily could be actual experiences by some of these people. SO I don't generally discount them as frauds, but at the same time, I don't like to simply accept everything these people claim as paranormal to be such.

As I touched on I do have some experience doing investigation, I did some with a local group and a few on my own. Now, none of what I ever did was nearly as "professional" as what you'll see on these shows. We didn't have $10,000 cameras or audio equipment, but what we did have saw enough to give us a basic understanding of what was going on in these places (usually homes) which we were investigating. The basic tools needed for any investigation as a simply "dollar store" flash light, an audio recorder, and some form of video recorder. Beyond that, there are some great things like night vision cameras, EMF detectors and whatnot which can be used, but they are far from necessities.

Your first goal as an investigator is not to be a "Ghost Hunter" but to be a "Ghost Buster." There is an old saying of "If you go looking for trouble, you just might find it." And the same can be said for the paranormal. When we start out looking to find paranormal, it's easy to find it, even when there is nothing there... Your first goal is to debunk, it's only after all mundane explanations have been explored and dis-proven should a paranormal answer be explored.

Now, why do I say this? Why can't we simply explain things as paranormal without ruling out other possibilities? Well, it's fairly simple. Any good investigation rules out all possible answers before deciding on one as fact. When people jump to paranormal explanations over the mundane, it tends to induce fear rather than understanding. As an investigator it's your job to find truth, and answers rather than to reinforce fear and misunderstandings.

The majority of those looking for investigators help are those who are living with experiences they can't explain. It could be those in homes or work environments they feel are "haunted" or it could be those who are trying to disprove the beliefs or stories they have encountered since becoming involved with a place. Either way, you'll find the majority of places have more normal than paranormal to them.

For example of the most common "paranormal" complaints is foot steps being heard, yet, the sound of footsteps is easily explained in most situations simply by taking a look at the building itself. Older homes and buildings have a tendency to "settle" at night as the temperature lowers and activity in the home slows down. Those which are close to a busy road, railway or highway have to absorb vibrations all day and need a chance to settle so they don't break apart... In fact if you're seeing damage to the foundation of the building or cracks forming in the walls there is a good chance the house is not sitting on a very sturdy foundation and could be shifting, which will produced creeks and pops in the house which easily sound like footsteps... If steps are being heard above the floor you are on or "coming from the attic" mice or birds should be looked in to. If all these very normal things are ruled out, then there is the possibility of a more paranormal explanation...

Examples like this can be listed over and over... Because of this you'll want to make a point to look for things such as rodents, birds, insects, drafts from outside and of course things like settling property or buildings FIRST...

Now, there are obviously experiences which are not and can not be explained by the "normal." Many times things such as voices, moving objects, energy balls and of course personal experiences are impossible to prove one way or another as normal or paranormal because they tend to be one time things. However, that doesn't mean they should automatically be discredited either. There is simply no such thing as a black and white answer; a Yes or No, when it comes to the paranormal. And while it may seem easy to simply list these things as to fantastic to be true, or to say "There is no proof so it didn't happen" the entire point of being a Paranormal investigator is to take the experiences of others and try to give them some kind of answer. My advice is even if you can not give someone a flat out yes or no - NEVER discredit someone experience as real. NEVER!  While there are those who will try to give you truly fantastic stories, the vast majority of those who are willing to share their stories simply want to share.

One thing however that does need to be taken in to account is that emotion expands experience... That means that when we are frightened, when people are emotional, they tend to see things as "larger" or scarier than they truly are. Crime investigators see this all the time with eye witnesses to crimes and Monster Investigators see this as well. Someone witnessing a violent crime for example, is more likely to see the perpetrator as taller, stronger or more powerful than they actually are, this is why eye witness accounts simply aren't as trustworthy as detectives wish they were...  Nothing changes when we are talking paranormal over normal.

Now, at the same time, while you should never discredit someone's experience you also can't allow it to interfere with your own experiences. Looking back to those shows I was talking about in the beginning, we see this kind of thing happening A LOT! They tend to start the show out by gathering stories from those who already have experiences, and then, throughout the show, you'll hear or see them doing their best to prove these experiences. When they do hear a voice or they do see something, they automatically jump to "Remember what Jimmy said? He said this guy did this..." and they just assume they are experiencing the same thing rather than trying to have their own experiences. I call this the "14 year old girl sleep over affect." If you ever were a 14 year old girl at a sleep over watching ghost stories, you know exactly why I call it that. They spend hours getting themselves all riled up and guessing and hoping what they will see and experience, and then when they get in there, they hear and see things which comply with those hopes - really, a large part of it is in their head...  It's nearly impossible to prove or disprove the experiences of others, especially when those things happened long before we got there. They do make for interesting points and serve as a good way to determine where you may have your own experiences, but beyond that they need to be largely ignored during your investigation.

In an effort to best be able to explain what you do or may experience it's very important that you have at least a basic understanding of hauntings, ghosts, energy, spirits and so on. This can be done easily by doing some research - just do yourself a favor and make sure you are doing this research through legitimate sources rather than random internet sites. You can also contact and preferably work with local paranormal groups to gain some experience before going out on your own. - And please note, when I say "on your own" I don't mean alone! NEVER attempt to do an investigation alone, the buddy system is always best when you are going to be in a place - any place haunted or not - where you are unfamiliar.

The last thing that I want to cover is respect. Again, going back to these shows, I am continually appalled at the basic lack of respect these so called Investigators have for the places and beings they encounter. Remember, regardless of whether or not you feel you are experiencing honest to goodness ghosts or other spirits, energies or other things you need to have at least a basic respect for them. Do NOT taunt or tease! Do NOT show anger or hostility! Sure, these actions will elicit more activity, but they also put you in possible danger and can endanger those who have to survive in this space on a day to day basis. Remember that many of the actual ghosts which are in these places are there because of negative or violent experiences, and just as you wouldn't want someone to come in to your home and speak to you as if you were less than worthy of respect, you shouldn't do it to them either. So even though it may be tempting to rile up the energies with angry words, violent imagery or by reenacting possible experiences that they may have had, these things should be generally avoided out of basic respect for them.

Divination: Ouija Boards

With Halloween and Samhain coming up in a few weeks divination tends to be a big subject. Halloween Movies have featured the practice since the 70's and most people have used one at at least one Halloween party as a kid. But what is really going on with these things? Are they harmless toys as the Milton Bradley Toy company would have us think? Or are they evil tools by which demons and evil spirits can enter our homes and bodies as so many movies, and churches portray them as? Or are they something completely different?

Well, the answers aren't quite as black and white as I think we all wish. There are a few theories of how and why these boards work. The first theory of course is that they actually do allow a channel to the spiritual realm to be opened and allow the user to connect directly to it...  The second theory is that it's all a mind over matter thing, that it's the users subconscious which actually moves the eye. And of course there is the whole "the devil does it" idea... Which we are going to completely ignore being this is a Pagan Blog.

For the purpose of this blog we are going to approach this subject using the second Theory and simply assume that they do create a connection to the spirit realm. I've found this tends to be the majority belief of most Pagans.

The beauty of Ouija Boards is that they are easy to use, anyone who can ask a question can use one. The down side is - anyone can MISUSE them as well. Toy and Game companies sell millions of these boards each year, and many people treat them as little more than a game or entertainment. This isn't, however, quite what they are. Are they fun? Are they entertaining? Yes, of course they are, if they weren't they wouldn't sell the way they do. The entertainment value however is also why so many are misused and people see negative outcomes in the long run - which then gets the boards, rather than the users, labeled troublesome.

Are Ouija Boards outwardly dangerous? Well, they can be, in the hands of someone who has no respect for what they represent, or because someone is simply an idiot. I read a comparison on another blog once which I found to be wonderful and I'm going to share here. Look at Ouija Boards as the spiritual form of a chat room. We have all seen the dangers of chat rooms on Dateline and 20/20 over and over again, but when asked, most people wouldn't label chat rooms themselves as dangerous. It's the actions we take while using a chat room which makes them safe or dangerous, not the room itself. It's very much the same with boards.

At this point, we all know when we join a chatroom that it's more than possible that "Momof3boys" is really a 45 year old pedophile rapist, and so we take the proper precautions. What we tend not to remember is when we open up a Ouija Board it's really the same kind of danger. We are opening a direct line to the spirit realm and we are talking to someone we don't know, and who we have no real connection with.

Spirits come in all shapes and sizes, just like people do. Are spirits dangerous? Well, they CAN be, but like people the majority are not. Unfortunately, it's not possible to usually decide whether someone or something is dangerous or not until after they prove themselves to be.

Ouija Boards work by using a form of "voluntary possession" where you allow yourself to be used by the spirits you've contacted. You have to open yourself as you open the board, clear your mind and allow your body to be used to move that eye in order to get the answers to your questions. Sure, the spirit is moving they eye, but they are using YOUR hand to do it.

Because of this, I generally say if you have little experience dealing with spirits or if the idea of possession clearly frightens you - find a different form of divination. While the directions clearly state you need to enter each session stating the board can only be used for positive contact, generally, you can't control this aspect beyond stating it. And like that chatroom, you don't really know who is on the other end.

If you do choose to use a board there are a few simple rules you should use in order to keep your experience as positive as possible:
  1. Don't ask stupid questions!
    Asking questions such as "when will the world end" is going to get you no where and is likely to annoy both those with you and the spirits you are "communing" with. Plus, should you get an answer, it's likely not going to be the correct one and will only cause you extra stress.
  2. If you are in a group remember to have only ONE person in the group asking questions, this will help to stop contact with more than one spirit at a time.
  3. Always make sure that those with the most experience are the "medium" rather than those with the least.
  4. Be polite.
    Remember that who or whatever you may contact can get angry and annoyed, and rudeness will only quicken that response.
  5. DO NOT ask for a physical sign of a presence... 
  6. DO NOT believe everything said as fact...  Spirits aren't necessarily any more in tuned with these things that you are, if you don't know the answer, there isn't really any reason to think they would either...
  7. Lastly, remember to close the board at the end of each use, do this by pushing the eye to the "Goodbye" area of the board

Can you be BORN a Witch?

Hollywood tends to push the idea that you are either inherit being a witch from your family line, or that you become a witch by joining the devil or seeking out evil. And can I just say - "Wow, Hollywood, thanks for that! We can always use more misconceptions!"

I've covered more than once the fact that witches have nothing to do with evil and nothing to do with the Devil, since most Pagans don't believe in the Devil, there is really no point in going over all that again. For this reason I'm simply going to skip over that part and go directly to answering the question at hand: Can you be BORN a Witch?

The short answer is YES. While most Pagans will say No, you have to become a witch or Pagan by choice, the truth is that YES, some of us are born with a much stronger connection or ability to preform Magick than others. We all have the ability to access these connections and we all have the ability to preform Magick - BUT, we've all known at least one person who seemed to have a natural connection or even "unnatural" understanding. Some of us have gifts or abilities which seem to come naturally, while others can work and work to develop them and just can't seem to master it. We see these people as "special" or "gifted" and in a way, they are. These are what we consider to be Natural Witches or Born Witches.

The majority of Pagans believe in reincarnation. If you believe in reincarnation it's not a far jump to believing that we can have "left overs" or residuals from past lives. For those who believe this way, it's also easy to understand how someone can be BORN a witch...

While I can't speak for others, I can share my own experience which may help to make more sense of this matter. My mother is a Jehovah's Witness, because of this from the time I was a young child I was told over and over again there was only ONE God, no Goddess, no Magick, no Fairies and that my visions, dreams and other "gifts" were evil and demonic. While most small children blindly believe things like this when they are told them, because they have no reason not to. I on the other hand, simply KNEW beyond a doubt that there was something more than what I was taught...  Something more than what I was being taught. I had visions, and my dreams came to pass, unlike the dreams of my friends and family... I could see and hear entities and beings who my mother labeled as "demons," but I knew they weren't evil.  I had natural abilities to do things others couldn't, and simply wouldn't accept that they were evil. I had "memories" and beliefs which seemed to come from somewhere else, they were certainly not what I was being taught or what I was being exposed to. As a child we were not only not exposed to Pagan beliefs but were even sheltered from the beliefs of the general Christian population. Yet, I knew without doubt there was more, I understood ideas such as multiple Gods, multiple Goddesses, reincarnation.... I had dreams of people and places that I simply never could have had no possible understanding of... 

I was BORN with these memories, these abilities, these understandings... I was BORN a witch, and more so, I was BORN to be Pagan.

Now, in no way does that mean that you HAVE to be born a witch, or that those who are are "better" or "more" of a witch than anyone else. The ability to connect with and use the energy in nature is something we all have. It's something anyone can access! Better yet, a natural connection in no way even means that someone will choose a path which embraces these gifts. Many do, but many others do not. Many are forced to suppress these abilities because of religious or cultural beliefs and understandings and many others simply ignore then as if they don't exist. If you are someone who has these natural inborn abilities you were BORN a witch... If you are someone who wasn't, you may need to work at gaining that connection a bit more. But in either case, you are, and always will be connected to the divine, connected to nature and connected to the energy which, when harnessed, gives us all the title of WITCH!

The Varieties of Religious Satanism: by Geifodd ap Pwyll

**Note from Sabrina - I do not generally consider Satanism as a subject of interest for this blog. However, because of the amount of questions the average Pagan gets from those who don't have all the facts about Paganism and Satanism, I felt it was important to have at least the very basic information... This article was written by a Satanist for the rest of us with the idea of education and understanding in mind, because of that, I decided to share it. However, it's VERY important to note that while MOST forms of Satanism DO fall under the umbrella of Paganism, they are NOT generally what is referred to by the term Pagan, nor are they generally accepted by the Pagan community as members.

This article is copyright © 2006 Geifodd ap Pwyll.

Satanism is not actually a single religion or belief system, but an entire family of inter-related belief systems, most of which are vastly different from each other save for one common theme: a sympathetic reinterpretation of the force/character/entity that is most well known and recognized in modern Western culture as "Satan."
The term "Religious Satanism" is used to describe Satanisms which are religious in nature. The reason there is a need to make such a distinction is because the term "Satanism" is also used as a literary term. If you check up the word "Satanism" in the Oxford Dictionary, you will find that one of its secondary definitions is a style of literature. Authors and poets who produced such literature were known as members of "the Satanic school," which became notorious for writing literature that supposedly takes the Devil's point of view. People included in the genre of "literary Satanism" were John Keats, Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron among others. None of these people were religious Satanists - that is to say, none of them practiced Satanism as a religion - but they were "Satanists" in the sense that they created a literary tradition structured around several unorthodox views and techniques, including an often sympathetic portrayal of the Devil.

Religious Satanism is primarily divided into three major categories: Theistic Satanists (who are sometimes called "Spiritual" or "Traditional Satanists"), LaVeyan Satanists, and Deistic Satanists (also known as "Pantheistic Satanists" or "Dark Deists"). The theistic branch of Satanism is the branch in which it is believed that Satan is an actual deity or supernatural being of some sort, who is to be somehow revered and/or worshiped. The LaVeyan branch of Satanism is the branch in which it is believed that Satan is merely a force in nature or a symbol of man's animal nature, which itself is regarded as the object of worship. Typically, theistic Satanists can be understood to be Satan-worshipers (although there are exceptions), while LaVeyan and Deistic Satanists can be understood to be Self-worshipers.

First I will cover the LaVeyan Satanists. LaVeyans take their name from Anton Szandor LaVey, who authored The Satanic Bible and who founded the Church of Satan in 1966. They believe that Satan is merely a symbol representing certain characteristics and traits that they find desirable. Such characteristics and traits include, but are not limited to: individuality, carnality, independence, and earthly success and power. The LaVeyan Satanist views Satan as being an imaginary character who represents the reality of the "Beast in Man," which itself is a manifestation of something that LaVey identified in his writings as "the Dark Force in Nature." Religious Satanism, to LaVeyans, is not about worshiping the Devil, but about worshiping oneself as the center of one's own universe. Naturally this will tempt some of my readers to describe LaVeyan Satanists as being "selfish," and indeed such Satanists will not shy away from that adjective.

LaVeyans also believe in practicing what they call magic. However, "magic" to them is not the exercise of supernatural power, but a form of theatrical psychodrama which is intended to help the practitioner overcome their inhibitions and become a full-fledged "personification" of Satan - the Dark Force - in the flesh.

Next I will speak of the Deistic (or Pantheistic) Satanists. Deistic Satanists are like LaVeyans, in that they do not believe that Satan is a personal being. Rather, they believe that Satan is an impersonal supreme being or force which is one with all things (i.e., pantheism). They agree with the "Dark Force in Nature" terminology that LaVeyans use, but they tend to place less emphasis on the teaching of LaVey than on what they term "the Dark Doctrines." The Dark Doctrines are essentially based upon an etymological hypothesis that the Hebrew word "Satan" is derived from a pair of Sanskrit terms, "Sat" (which is said to mean something like "pure existence") and "Tan" (which is said to mean something like "stretching forth"). The Sat part is a description of what it fundamentally is, while the Tan is a description of what it does. As Sat, it is the force of being which causes all and everything to exist. As Tan, it is the force that causes evolution and metamorphosis. The primary two churches which teach Deistic Satanism are the First Church of Satan in Salem, Massachussetts, and the Satanic Reds (who are also, interestingly enough, a Communist group).

The theistic branch of Satanism is divided into multiple subcategories. Perhaps the oldest variety of theistic Satanism of which I know are the Gnostic Satanists, who are descended from the Ophidian Gnostics. The Gnostics believed that everything that existed was originally pure spirit; then the Demiurge (who was identified as the god of the Old Testament by Ophidian Gnostics, and with the Devil by Gnostic Christians) trapped our souls in matter and cut us away from the Source. The Gnostic Christians believed that Jesus Christ was an incorporeal spirit that had been sent into the world by the Source, not to save the human race by dying on the cross, but to teach the way of discovering Gnosis - i.e., knowledge of the divinity within - which was believed to be the only way to escape the sinfulness of the material world. While some Gnostics, typically the Gnostic Christians, believed that it was necessary to abstain from worldly pleasures in order to transcend the material world, others (particularly the Ophidians) believed that Gnosis could be achieved by indulging in worldly pleasures and by "exhausting" their sinfulness. This is where the Gnostic Satanists came from. 

The Ophidians identified the One who was sent into the world by the Source to teach humans of the Gnosis with the serpent of Genesis, and not with Christ. They believed that when the serpent tempted Adam and Eve with the Knowledge of Good and Evil, He was really tempting them with the Gnosis and thereby freed them from the authoritarian power of the Demiurge (Jehovah). The Ophidians, unlike Christians, did not identify the serpent as Satan, but as Sophia, the goddess of wisdom. However, there were some Ophidian-based Gnostics who did acknowledge the serpent as Satan, and these became the Gnostic Satanists. Gnostic Satanists, therefore, worship Lucifer as the Bringer of Light, who helps us to transcend the imperfections of earthly existence by enticing us to indulgence, rather than abstinence. There is currently no major Gnostic Satanist organization in existence of which I am aware, though there have been groups such as Church Lucifer (also known as the Children of the Black Rose). It has been speculated that the Gnostic Satanists had a bit of influence over the Freemasons. Whether this is actually true or not is anyone's guess.

Later came the Yezidi, who are a Middle Eastern sect that originated in the area which is currently known as Iraq. Founded by the prophet Sheik Adi in the 1100's, the Yezidi were a band of Islamic heretics who believed that Shaitan, the fallen angel, was not really the Devil but the true Messiah whom the Creator had sent to rule over our terrestrial world and to eventually extinguish the fires of Hell with His tears. They were forbidden to pronounce the name "Shaitan" (and in some accounts it is said that Yezidi would even go so far as to kill themselves upon hearing the name, as it was considered an act of blasphemy just to hear it), so they called Him "Melek Ta'us," which is a Kurdish name meaning "King of the Angels." 

As Melek Ta'us, the Prince of this World was often depicted in the form of a peacock. This is taken from an earlier Persian myth in which Ahura Mazda, the god of light, asked Ahriman, the god of darkness, why He only created "evil" things. Ahriman then promptly took an ugly bird, dismembered it, brought the pieces of its corpse back together again and resurrected it, and it came back to life as the beautiful peacock. Ahriman then said to Mazda, "See? Not all of my works are evil." The Yezidi believe that at the end of days, the Prince of this World and the Creator god will become reconciled, and thus will the human race be saved. It is important to point out here that in Yezidi theology, Satan is not the enemy of God, but a faithful servant of God who was appointed to be the God of this World, rather than a fallen angel who was "cast out" from heaven. Yezidi typically believe that the god of Christians is the true deceiver.

The Yezidi still exist today, and were among the Kurds who were most persecuted by Saddam Hussein in modern Iraq. Some still live in Iraq, where they are currently establishing representation for themselves in the new government. Others have moved to parts of Europe, including both Russia and Germany. The Yezidis do not accept the term "Satanist" because they do not accept the name "Satan" as a name for the Prince of this World. However, it is a fact that they worship the very same deity that other theistic Satanists do. The Yezidi holy text is known as the Mishaf Resh, which outlines their view of creation. Copies of this text can now be found online.

Then come what is called the Christian-based Duotheists. Christian-based Duotheists are theistic Satanists who believe in a form of Satanism that is essentially more like inversified Christianity. Which is to say, they believe that Satan is not a god but a fallen angel who has rebelled against the Creator, and who is attempting to usurp the Creator's throne. This is probably a form of Satanism that most Christians will be more familiar with, as it accepts most of what Christianity believes - including the Fall of Man, the Crucifixion, the coming of Antichrist and the Second Coming of Christ - except that Christian-based Duotheists simply choose the other side of the fence. They often believe that Satan, although a mere fallen angel, actually has a fighting chance of winning the battle against God. Christian-based Duotheists are commonly laughed at and ridiculed by the majority of Satanists as being the Satanic equivalent to "Holy Rollers."

Next we have the Setians. The Setian denomination was founded by Dr. Michael A. Aquino in 1975. Aquino was a priest of the Church of Satan who left over a dispute with LaVey concerning the existence of the Prince of Darkness. Aquino then started his own church called the Temple of Set. The Setians believe that the Prince of Darkness' "true" name is Set, and that before He became known as "Satan" in Judeo-Christian mythology, He was known as Set in ancient Egyptian religion. Setians believe that the Prince of Darkness is a god who is responsible for creating consciousness - the ability to perceive, to be aware and to take deliberate action. They believe in a mystical concept called "Xeper," an Egyptian word pronounced "Kheffer" which means "I have Come into Being." Xeper is what the Egyptian sun god, Ra, would proclaim each morning at dawn after his nocturnal journey through the underworld. Set was the god who protected Ra during this journey from Apep, the serpent of darkness and chaos. In protecting Ra, Set enabled the sun to "Xeper" each morning, and this myth is taken to be symbolic of Set's power to enable us to become newly created beings with each self-determined action that we take in life. In this context, the term "Xeper" means something similar to "I think therefore I am," though it could be said to take an additional meaning: "The MORE I think, the MORE I am."

The Setian holy text is The Book of Coming Forth by Night, which was supposedly dictated to Michael Aquino during a ritual channeling with the Prince of Darkness in 1975. Setians are often indecisive over whether or not they should consider themselves Satanists. Many times, Setians consider themselves to be a part of the Satanic subculture and indeed they are, since they grew out of the Church of Satan (strangely enough). However, often they will claim that they are a "higher" form of Satanism that is much too sophisticated to be ensared in "the bastard title of a Hebrew fiend," so they will try to pass their religion off as something completely different. However, for all their neo-Egyptian mysticism, they continue to refer to Set as "the Prince of Darkness" and they continue to use the Satanic pentagram (i.e., two points up, so the star is shaped like a goat's head) as their sacred symbol. Therefore, most Satanists continue to consider the Setians to be a denomination of Satanism. Also, Setians, although they are theistic, count as Self-worshipers instead of as Satan/Set-worshipers. They have what I like to call a "Faustian" relationship with the Prince of Darkness, which is to say that instead of worshiping Him and serving Him, they work with Him as an associate who helps them to increase their own power in this world. Sort of like a strictly academic or business relationship, rather than a "god-follower" relationship.

Joy of Satan-style theistic Satanists (JoSers for short) are rather weird. Satanists such as these believe, like Christian-based Duo-theists, that there is a cosmic struggle going on between Satan and Jehovah. However, the JoSers (having read too much Zechariah Sitchin) believe that Satan and Jehovah are not actually supernatural beings, but mortal aliens living on a distant planet across the universe, who communicate telepathically with human beings and who are engaged in a psychic mind-war over our allegiance. JoSers tend to believe that all of the gods worshiped by human beings throughout history are really extra-terrestrials. They also believe that Satan was originally the pre-Christian Sumerian deity Enki, before He became corrupted into the fallen angel concept. Some of them have actually taken to calling themselves Enkians. Although JoSers are commonly laughed at and ridiculed by other Satanists as being sort of like the Satanic equivalent to Scientologists, they nonetheless have a large following in theistic Satanism.

Demonolators are not exactly Satanists per se, although they are accepted as a part of our subculture. Demonolators are people who worship Demons, as opposed to just Satan Himself. They believe that the Demons are not actually fallen angels, but really pre-Christian pagan deities who represent the "dark side of Nature." Demonolators consider themselves to be Dark Pagans (i.e., worshipers of Nature who are tuned to the dark side). They do not really have much of a public presence at this time, though they have in the past. It is known that they are organized, but they choose to remain underground due in part to various troubles that they have had with outsiders in the past. Some of them used to maintain public websites through which they attempted to reach out to outsiders, but it is reported that one of these outsiders stirred up some major political trouble within one or more of the priesthoods. Therefore, as a way of avoiding further trouble, the Demonolator community opted to go underground. However, it would appear that at least one of the traditional Demonolator covens has decided to re-instate an online presence. Please visit the OFS Demonolatry website for more extensive information.

Lastly, I will speak of the Devil worshipers (also called Diabolators). This is where I fit in. While it is true that most theistic Satanists can probably be described as Devil worshipers (except for the Setians - who have quite an aversion to that word "worship"), it will probably surprise most of my readers to learn that the vast majority of Satanists frown upon the term "Devil worshiper," in much the same way that many gays frown upon the word "queer" and many African Americans from upon the dreaded "N" word. Satanists who embrace the term "Devil worshiper" and actually use it as a term of self-reference are, surprisingly enough, a minority within a minority. 

The term itself does not really propose any particular theological worldview, save for a belief in a Satan (or satans), and a belief in worshiping Him. Other than these two points, Devil worshipers can embark upon a wide variety of theological perspectives - polytheism, pantheism, henotheism, duo-theism, etc. The major qualification for being a Devil worshiper is that you take a primarily devotional approach to the Powers of Darkness. Most other varieties of Satanism place emphasis on the practice of magic or the attainment of Gnosis over worship and prayer (in fact the Setians will tell you that worship and prayer are "un-Satanic"). But Devil worshipers unashamedly worship the Powers of Darkness as their gods, and we also unashamedly refer to them as our Masters - another "taboo" that most other Satanists refuse to accept. Perhaps the only three organizations dedicated to honest-to-Satan Devil worship are the Church of Azazel, the Order of Eternal Darkness and the Temple of Diabolic Youth. However, the Church of Azazel is still just starting out, and is only beginning to gain acceptance among some of the other denominations. 

Those of us who identify as Devil worshipers tend to overlap with many, perhaps all, of the other theistic categories I have mentioned above. In this context, Devil worship is not really a theological category, but rather an attitude. The taboo on the term "Devil worship" originated with LaVey's Church of Satan, who basically have the attitude that they are the only true Satanists and the rest of us are all "Devil worshipers" whom they despise and tend to lump together with the criminal fringe.

Unfortunately, I am afraid that no discussion of the varieties of religious Satanism would be complete without mentioning our criminal fringe. Historically there has only been one organized Satanist group that committed acts of terrorism, murder and violence. These were the members of the Norwegian Black Metal Circle, which existed in Norway during the early 1990's.

The Black Metal Circle (sometimes called "the Black Metal Mafia") was founded by a man who called himself Euronymous (after a Greek deity of death and the underworld). Euronymous and his followers were musicians who played black metal music. They chose to call themselves Satanists because they believed in Satan as this "Spirit of Evil" who only wants to spread misery and suffering throughout the world. In order to "serve" Him, Euronymous and his followers began a long campaign of church-burning and graveyard desecrations, as well as murders. They made a point to target churches that were historical monuments of architecture in Norway, and I believe that in at least one case, they burned one of these churches down while people were actually inside.

Euronymous explained in interviews that the reason he and his followers did this was because they believed that, by performing acts of terrorism cloaked in Satanic imagery, they would cause Christian fanaticism to grow in Northern Europe. Northern Europe is actually known for having a predominatly liberal Christian climate these days, but Euronymous wanted to initate a surge in Christian fanaticism by creating terror in people with these church burnings and murders. Euronymous was completely insane and was working to initiate a man-made apocalypse. However, as crazy as he was, he was not stupid. The Black Metal Circle was well organized and they managed to get away with what they were doing for a couple of years. In fact, the Black Metal Circle was not stopped until one of their own members - one Varg Vikernes, who had converted to Odinism - murdered Euronymous in 1993.

It would be intellectually dishonest of Satanists to deny that we have our fair share of psychopathic monsters, as do all other religions. But as with other religions, the number of psychopathic monsters in our religion is actually quite small when compared to the number of sane people. The problem is that the criminal Satanists tend to get more press than the sane Satanists do, simply because the media does not consider "friendly neighborhood Devil worshipers" like myself to be very newsworthy. 

So these are the varieties of religious Satanism as I have come to understand them over the past decade of my life. I hope that this article has been helpful in clearing some of the misconceptions that many people have about our religious subculture.

What to Read? The New Vampire's Handbook

The New Vampire's Handbook: A Guide for the Recently Turned Creature of the Night

Okay, this is not a book I recommend if you don't like to smile or laugh. Far from any spiritual education or lifestyle book, this is completely a fun lighthearted book full of comedy. If you're like me and keep a book in the bathroom or the car this is the book you want. You'll "learn" all about the Vampire's digestive system, which requires they take extra socks, why beheading kills Vampires and even great ways to "hook up" your home in true Vampire style!

Really, this isn't usually the kind of book I tend to post here, but this one is just to much fun not to share! It was a really nice break from all the seriousness in life and from all the stupid shiny vampires you see now a days!


What to Read? Reading By Author: Zsuzsanna Budapest

This Month's Featured Author is Zsuzsanna Budapest (January 30, 1940 - Today)

Zsuzsanna Emese Mokcsay is an American author born in Hungry who writes mostly on feminist spirituality and Dianic Wicca. The vast majority of people recognize her pen and religious name of Zsuzsanna Budapest or Z. Budapest. She is the High Priestess and the founding member of the Susan B. Anthony Coven, the first feminist and women-only witches' coven.  In addition to being an author she is the director of the Women's Spirituatlity Forum, a Playwright, and a composer.

Her mother was both a medium and a practicing witch who supported herself and her daughter as a sculptress. The themes of her art always celebrated the Triple Goddess and the Fates. This only encouraged "Z" to grow up respecting Mother Nature as a God.

Due to the poverty and political oppression of post-war Europe under the Russian occupation Z grew to be fiercely political. In 1956, when the Hungarian Revolition broke out, she as well as 65,000 others, mostly young workers and students, left Hungary as political refugees. She finished high school in Innsbruck, graduated from a bilingual gymnasium, and won a scholarship to the University of Vienna where she studied languages. In 1959, Z emigrated to the US and became a student at the University of Chicago, married and had two sons. In Chicago she studied with Second City, a theatrical school.

She started practicing solo worship of the Goddess at her home alter in her backyard around this time as well. At the age of thirty, she became involved with the Women's Lib movement in LA and became an activist, staffing the Women's Center there for many years.

Seeing a need for spirituality in the the women's movement she started the Women's Spirituality Movement. And founded the Susan B Anthony Coven, which has become the role model for thousands of other spiritual groups across the country.

Through this time period there were still laws against many religious and spiritual practices throughout the country. Z was arrested in 1975 for reading Tarot cards to an undercover policewoman. Although she lost the trial, she won the issue and the law against psychics was abolished just nine years later.

She has led rituals, lectured, taught classes & workshops, written articles and been published in hundreds of women's newspapers and magazines. And she has been a powerful influence to many current and no doubt future teachers and writers about the Goddess...

Z currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She keeps herself very busy traveling, giving workshops and lectures (which this blogger would LOVE to attend). She also stars in her own cable television show called 13th Heaven. And is currently the director of the Women's Sprituality Forum, which sponsors a monthly lecture series in the Bay Area about the Goddess, spirituality retreats, and annual spiral dances on Halloween.

Z also founded and sponsors the Dianic University Online, a "vagina-friendly" online school for Dianic Wicca and Goddess studies for women.

California Institute for Integral Studies recognized recently Z's contribution to Women's Spirituality Movement.

Books by Z Budapest:

1975 - The Feminist Book of Lights and Shadows

1989 - The Holy Book of Women's Mysteries

1989 - The Grandmother of Time

1991 - Grandmother Moon

1993 - The Goddess in the Office

1995 - The Goddess in the Bedroom

1999 - Summoning the Fates

2003 - Celestial Wisdom for Every Year of Your Life

Below you'll find a few "Reader Reviews" and "Reader Ratings" so that you can see what actual readers think... If you have read any of the writings of Z. Budapest and would be willing to share your feelings, please post them below in our comments area! (more will be posted as I get them)

"The only book I have had was Grandmother Moon.    It was actually pretty decent. Her writing is very "Goddess orientated, " as to be expected from her personal history, and if I remember right the book went through the moon cycles and had various myths and spells  associated to the 13 month lunar calendar.  In some places, she was a little too pro-menstrual cycle.  I would give it 3 1/2 stars out of 5."  ~ Meeshka Mouska

Penny Pinching...

I get questions all the time about the financial part of being Pagan...  Books, tools, herbs, gems... it's easy to see how the cost can add up. However, there are some great ways to get around that cost. I can't tell you you'll never spend any money, but what I can say is IF you choose to spend your money, I can at least tell you how to spend the least amount possible.

Step One - Get outside! Even the biggest cities in the world have parks, cemeteries and trash... All of these places are great places to find "supplies."  Parks and Cemeteries are wonderful places to find everything from branches, stones, nuts and other supplies, including herbs or plants. Beaches are perfect for smooth stones, shells, branches and of course they are a natural source of water and sand...

And if you remember the saying "One man's trash is another man's treasure"? Well, it's very true! I'm not saying you should go picking through everyone's cans come trash day... But when you see things such as bowls, incense burners or other useful items, there isn't anything wrong with recycling, so maybe at least taking a walk on trash day is a good idea...

Local plants, herbs and berries are also easy to find in public parks, wooded areas, cemeteries and beaches... I'm sorry I have to say this, but DO NOT eat or ingest anything you find growing locally unless you know exactly what it is... 

Step Two - Run an internet search for Pagan Shoppes and Stores and sign up for their newsletters. The majority of Pagan supply companies will offer some form of newsletter or at the very least email you when they are having sales or specials. When I hear about big sales I always post the information on the blog here, but I can't possibly know about every one of them, so it's best to take a few moments to sign up with them yourself.

I also suggest visiting and spending the $5 or $6 to order one every few months. You should also make a point to check back  every few weeks or so. Pagan Packs is an organization devoted to promoting small Pagan owned businesses and sites. The packs themselves are full of samples, coupons and great finds! If you have a small business, blog, site or similar you should also join the Pagan Packs Yahoo groups and promote your own site or business as well, not only will it gain you some exposure, but it will give you a great connection to other owners and get you up to the day information on discounts and sales!

FaceBook, Myspace and other social networks... Most shoppes, organizations and even Pagan run charities have pages and profiles on these sites, and are always posting information about their sales!

Step Three - If you don't yet have an account with Amazon - GET ONE! While you won't be able to find everything you want on Amazon, you can easily save TONS of money simply buy shopping there instead of the regular book stores. I rarely pay more than $5 for a book and it's a great place to find out of print or limited print books as well. You'll also be able to find some great DVDs, alter and ritual supplies and even some beautiful jewelry at really great prices. I suggest you set up a WishList and check it at least weekly. I have somewhere around 12 pages of books and items I want, but I know I don't want to pay a lot for, so by checking the list every week or so, I'm able to keep an eye on the prices for used items and wait for them to fall in to my price range rather than spending more than I want.

In addition to an Amazon account, I suggest joining a site like SwagBucks or Bigcrumbs... With SwagBucks you can actually earn Amazon gift cards without spending any money, by doing things like surveys, searching the web, and taking daily polls. I switched over to the SwagBucks search engine from Google and usually earn enough points to get a $5 Amazon gift card every week to 10 days, that really adds up quickly! If you do any other shopping online you can either shop through SwagBucks and earn points which you can then turn in for gift cards OR you can shop through a rebate site like BigCrumbs which allows you to earn cash back on all your purchases. BOTH of these are completely free opportunities and will enable you to save some money, on both supplies and every day things...  I tend to use them both hand in hand and earn a good bit of my supplies and books free or close to it...

Step Four - Flea Markets, Swap Meets, Pawn Shops, Antique and Second Hand stores are all AWESOME places for AWESOME finds! Gems, Jewelry, Drums, Metals, "Trinket" boxes, Bowls, Plates, Cups... The list of what you can find is unlimited and in most cases these places aren't overly expensive and tend to be willing to deal or even trade if you have something worth trading for.

Step Five - Craft & Dollar Stores aren't usually as willing to deal or trade, but they are great place for DIY supplies, decorations and candles for cheap!  Grocery Stores & Supermarkets are great places for fresh and dried herbs, plants, wine & cider and any number of other things...

Step Six - Online Auctions are a little more dangerous and not quite as straight forward as regular shops are. I suggest joining a site like PayPal and ONLY making financial transactions through them, do NOT place more money in the account than you need to pay for what you're buying... That way even should you get "ripped off" they can't tap in to your bank account or credit card... Stick to "safe" sites like Ebay and ALWAYS contact the seller prior to bidding and check on everything from condition of the item to where they got it...  I know I sound a little paranoid on this subject, but just trust me, it comes out of experience!

Although sites like Craigslist and Backpage CAN be a good place to find things second hand and cheap, I'm not a general fan of them. There is no way to find out who you are dealing with and you will usually need to meet with the "dealer" in person to exchange money and items, which can, unfortunately, be very dangerous. In addition, unless they are nice enough to post photos, there is generally no way to figure out what you're buying until you're there...  My general advice is don't risk it just to save a few dollars!

Step Seven - DIY & Grow your own...  You don't need to have store bought everything, and it's always going to be much much cheaper to make your own than to buy. Most of the time recipes and how to information can be easily found online. Easy items to make include incense, wands, staffs, runes, tarot cards, athame, cakes, personal book of shadows or mirrors, scrying mirrors or balls, spell stars and the list goes on and on and on... Herbs and other usable plants can easily be grown at home. Even if you don't have a yard for a garden, a small planter or large bowl are easy to grow in and can easily fit in just about any home.

Step Eight - Okay, here's my final tip... But it's a favorite of mine - SWAP YOUR STUFF! Do you have friends? Go through their stuff, have them go through yours, especially books... and simply swap... If you know your friends grow certain herbs, grow different herbs then just swap!  If you know you have the ability to get a group together you can easily start a group swap where everyone brings in old items, used items or home made or grown items that they no longer need or want and trade... There's nothing like sharing with friends and getting free stuff too!

**If you have tips on how to save some cash... Make sure to let us all know!

The Pagan ABC's

This was simply too cute not to share! 

    A is Athame, the knife that we use.
    B is for Broom, to sweep out gloom.
    C is for Coven where we all are one.
    D is for Divine, the whole of the universe.
    E is for Energy, what surrounds and connects us.
    F is for Fairy, the spirits that play with us.
    G is for the Goddess in beauty and love.
    H is the Horned One, our Father above.
    I is for Invoke, when we bring in the spirit.
    J is for Jack-o-lantern, to ward off ghosts.
    K is for knots, to bind and release energy.
    L is for Lady, the wise woman of our clan.
    M is for Moon, riding way up so high!
    N is for Night, the time of of witch's light.
    O is for Oak, the tree chosen by the Goddess.
    P is for Pentacle, the shield of magik.
    Q is the Quarters, the 4 directions of our circle,
    R is for Ritual, when we honor the GreatSpirits.
    S is for Shaman, our wise spiritual teacher.
    T is for Talisman, we wear them when we can.
    U is for Unicorn, the magikal horse.
    V is for visions, when spirit brings forth pictures.
    W is for Witch, the seeker of knowledge.
    X is Xylograph, when we carve symbols into wood.
    Y is for Yggdrasill, the tree of the universe.
    Z is the Zodiac, 12 signs to learn.

    Now I know our ABCs
    Won't you come and fly with me.

Copyright 2004, Lady SpringWolf

 Here's a second version... Mix them around and see what works best for your kiddos!

A is Athame, the knife that we use.
B is for Beltaine, when partners we choose.
C is for Circle where we all are one.
D is for Deosil, path of the Sun.
E is for Esbat, when we gather round.
F is for Fire and its crackling sound.
G is for the Goddess in beauty and love.
H is the Horned One, our Father above.
I is for Imbolg, candles light the way,
J is for June when it’s Midsummer’s Day.
K is for Karma, the things that we do.
L is for Lammas, harvest’s almost through!
M is for Moon, riding way up so high,
N is for Nighttime, which darkens the sky.
O is for Ostara, when we hunt for eggs,
P is for Pan, with hairy goat legs.
Q is the Quarters and there are just four,
R for the Rites when we open the Door.
S is for Samhain, end of the year,
T is for Tarot cards, futures to hear
U is Undines from the watery West,
V is Vervain for protection and rest.
W is Widdershins, the path of the moon.
X is the sign that’s the sign of the God.
Y is for Yule and the sun’s return,
Z is the Zodiac, 12 signs to learn.

Check out what else I'm writing!