EDGE OF THE CIRCLE NEWSLETTER
ISSUE TWENTY , VOLUME THREE: APRIL 2008
Welcome to the 21st edition of the Edge of the Circle Newsletter. This newsletter has come about as an effort to reach out to the Pagan/ Occult community (particularly in Seattle where we are based) to inform the community of what events are happening at our store. I've got great plans for this newsletter. Hopefully, as time goes by, it will only get bigger and better. Without further ado, welcome, and enjoy.
Erica (Raven) Branch-Butler,
WHO WE ARE:
Edge of the Circle Books is Seattle's resource for Paganism & the Occult. This newsletter seeks to provide the Seattle community with a place to list events, post articles, and do a bit of networking. We are at: 701 E. Pike St, corner of Boylston Ave., just two blocks west of Broadway, on Capitol Hill. Edge of the Circle Books strives to be everything that you could want in a Magickal Pagan store.
Open 7 days a week, Noon till" 9pm.
Thanks to Janice Van Cleve for letting us publish her wonderful story in the newsletter!
HOW CAN I DEAL WITH ELEUSIS?
By Janice Van Cleve
How can I deal with the experiences of Eleusis? How can I manage the powerful emotions which still swirl within me or contain the euphoric joy that pops and sparks in my heart like fireworks in July? It’s all I can do to keep from dancing around in my living room, giggling uncontrollably at my desk, or just shouting out with exuberance. Where does all this come from?
I’ve just returned from Spring Mysteries Festival. This is an annual pagan festival sponsored by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church (www.aquatabch.org) out at Ft. Flagler on the north tip of Marrowstone Island in Puget Sound. This year was their 23rd festival and I have attended the last ten. It’s the most bang for the buck moving experience I can think of and it is easily as rich and new and exciting every time as any overseas adventure.
Eleusis, of course, was an ancient city in Greece, 12 miles west of Athens.
Since before the days of the Trojan War or David and Goliath, Greeks would gather in the agora or town square of Athens every September. There the priestesses would announce the beginning of the mysteries of the rites of Demeter and pilgrims would follow them along the Sacred Way on foot, reaching Eleusis by nightfall. There they would dance, worship, and witness revelations that left them in much the same state as I am now. Citizens and slaves – even Roman emperors – journeyed to the site to experience the transformation that was offered there. Eleusis was the most important religious center of the ancient world until it was destroyed by the Goths and banned by the Christians.
Today Eleusis is called Elefsina. It is an industrial seaport and ship building city. It is home to the main Greek oil refineries and the Greek Air Force. The ruins of the ancient temples and other buildings associated with the rites of Demeter are not emphasized and indeed are not easy to find. They are still there, however, surrounded by a fence with a ticket booth and restroom at the entrance. It has been my great privilege to visit this sacred place twice. While the Greek Orthodox Church still shuns any connection to the rich pagan past of the Greek people, one can still see Euros stuffed between the cracks in the walls of the temples and fresh flowers at the altars. I hear now that school children even celebrate pageants on the pavement of the Telesterion these days although I am not sure how much these accurately reflect the rituals that used to be performed there.
As a matter of fact, no one really knows what went on at the rites of Demeter. They are loosely based on the myth of the abduction and return of her daughter, Persephone, which symbolizes the seasons of the year and the cycle of life-death-rebirth. Carl Kerenyi has written an exhaustive exploration of the rites in his book, Eleusis and even he acknowledges that there are more questions than answers. So we make no pretence at our festival that we are “recreating” the rituals that took place at Eleusis.
What we do, rather, is try to recreate the feelings, the personal transformation – the “enlightenment” if you will – that inspired the Greeks for 2000 years when they made their pilgrimages to Eleusis.
Our mysteries take place in the raw beauty of the Pacific Northwest on the site of an old coastal defense fort, complete with barracks, gun batteries and dark scary underground bunkers. Bald eagles circle overhead and tame deer browse on the parade ground. Strong winds from three directions howl through the tall fir trees while the frigid waters of Puget Sound lash the shoreline beneath the cliffs. Bold Mt. Baker looms to the northeast and massive Mt. Rainier dominates the southeast. It is a fresh, exhilarating, and stunningly beautiful place to challenge our minds and souls.
As I try to deal with my experience of Eleusis, beauty is a good place to start. Beauty is where Blacksun went in his workshop on the fifth element, Spirit. (The other four elements are Air, Fire, Water, and Earth – but you already knew that.) As part of the festival, we have workshops on various topics and I usually lead one every year myself. Blacksun is a priest of the ATC and a person I’ve come to know as a friend and teacher. He has a load of wisdom to share behind his folksy, homespun manner and wisecrack humor. He advised us that one way to find Spirit is to look for beauty.
Beauty is easy to find out here at Ft. Flagler in these surroundings. We were there during the spring equinox and we were even blessed by a full moon rising into the starry heavens on Friday night and a glorious sunrise the next morning, exploding from behind the Cascades. It gave new meaning to the term “Golden Dawn” (which, by the way, was a magical order founded in the late 19th Century.)
Beauty is also expressed in Love. The love that these pagan folk express for each other is genuine and tangible. This may seem surprising since many of us only see each other once a year and we follow many different pagan paths. Yet hugs and kisses, compliments and caresses, are freely given and accepted. All sexual orientations are much more open and included today than they were when I first came to the festival and even the actor’s scripts allow for multiple expressions of sexuality. Naturally, we do attract the same kind of energy as we put out. Those who come here in joy and openness, who set aside their egos and agendas – and who bring a sense of humor! – will be embraced with more love, appreciation, and respect than one normally gets in the mundane world or even in mainstream churches.
I was most touched by small boy named Donny. Donny is a quiet child with short hair and thick glasses and he must be about ten years old. I remember seeing him here last year. The first night when I was standing in line at the cafeteria for supper, little Donny walked over to me out of nowhere and gave me a silent hug, then he went back to his table. It was as if he just wanted to say “I love you”, although we were strangers to each other. What a sweet gesture – so honest and unashamed. It was like that everywhere – men and women and children all loving together in one family.
As much as we need to be loved, we need to be needed as well. The Olympian gods and goddesses need the people every bit as much as the people need the gods and goddesses. We close circle with the words: “May the gods preserve the Craft as the Craft preserves the gods!” We need to be needed by each other, too. Part of our job here is to discover where we are needed, where we fit. We have work duties to perform in the kitchen, at the shrines, and for cleanup and everybody pitches in willingly for the most part. We reach beyond our own assumptions to accommodate multiple disabilities or the dietary restrictions of others. We place ourselves at service to others as they stumble along their own spiritual paths. We appreciate the time and effort that others put into workshops, acting, cooking, and other services to make the festival a success. I come away realizing once again that every person on this planet, including me, is necessary in some way for the success of the whole. Every person has their unique gift to offer.
Perhaps the most powerful element for me at Spring Mysteries is its tribal nature. We know the same songs. We share the same mythologies. We wear similar clothing and jewelry. We use many of the same magical tools and while our individual religious practices vary all over the map, we know and respect the practices of others. Paganism is not a faith based religion, after all. We don’t have one single Koran, Torah, or Bible which we claim to hold the whole truth and the only truth. Ours is an experience based religion and everyone has their own collection of experiences and frames of reference. How could any of us proselytize to someone else when their experience base is different than our own? How can anyone say their religion is “better” than someone else’s? For this reason we respect each other as equals and willingly participate with each other in rites that we would not normally do that way in our own practice.
As a Dianic priestess, I do not believe in gods or goddesses per se nor do I make use of gender polarity to raise my energy. Yet, I willingly join in rituals that use these symbols to share in the energy and joy of my friends.
That alone is worth the effort and there is always more to learn and more experiences to add to my own. This year I even participated in a sky clad ritual. Sky clad means naked and, yes, it’s coed. Trust me, in March it’s not about sex – it’s about not freezing!
Tribalism addresses a primordial human need to belong. Some fill that need with their FOO – their Family Of Origin. For others it is their FOM – Family Of Marriage. Most of us, however, need more belonging than either a FOO or a FOM can provide, which is why we have sports fans who identify with each other through their support of a team, school reunions for those who identify with each other through their shared academic experience, and all kinds of clubs, Masonic lodges, ya-ya sisterhoods, church groups, etc.
Belonging to a group reinforces our own sense of being, place, and purpose.
Tribalism expresses itself in many ways at the festival, both sublime and profane. Once, on our way to the sea to throw in our offerings, we spontaneously broke out in chant. It quite naturally evolved into a four part harmony with voices rising and falling into their patterns – this among 280 people who see each other only once a year and half of them being here for the first time. Another example was while we were standing in line to enter the theater. We spontaneously huddled into a Borg collective and assimilated other people. All the while we were singing songs from Rocky Horror Picture Show!
Finally, there are the Mysteries of Demeter themselves, which are always quite powerfully presented and always new and challenging every year. It would do no good to attempt to explain them to the uninitiated because they have to be experienced to be attained. Even though this year is my tenth return to Spring Mysteries Festival, I am still growing and deepening in my appreciation for the spiritual values that underlie these mysteries. I’m not that much impressed by Greek deities, or by any deities for that matter, but the performances here really do drive home some profound truths, fundamental to being human and divine in ourselves. I come here open to receive and I leave well filled!
This is quite a handful of emotions to deal with after four days of intense emersion – Beauty, Love, Being Needed, Belonging, and Enlightenment. It is difficult to step back into the mundane world to deal with work, taxes, recession, a criminal government and the news that the 4,000th soldier has been killed in Iraq. All I can do is get it down in writing so if I have to turn my attention to these other things, I will not lose the wonderful memories I gathered on the tip of that small windy island in a remote corner of this amazing universe.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Janice Van Cleve is a pagan priestess in the Dianic tradition of Wicca. Her experience at Spring Mysteries XXIII was much enhanced by scoring a private room all to herself and an excellent purchase in the Temple of the Goddess VISA. Copyright 2008.
THE FORGE OF TUBAL CAIN
by Ann Finnin
From its earliest days to the present, Ann and Dave Finnin have been at the center of the Pagan community in Southern California. Here is the story of the groups and covens that came and went, and those that grew into thriving Traditions. In particular, this is the story of the Roebuck, how it came to be, and the influences that led to its creation. Ann writes about all the 'Big Names' in the Craft from Los Angeles and beyond from personal experience - she was there, working with and interacting with the people and the groups that are legendary in Craft circles. With foreword by Ed Fitch.
List Price: 17.95
Paperback: 252 pages
Publisher: Pendraig Publishing (February 7, 2008)
TREADING THE MILL -
PRACTICAL CRAFTWORKING IN MODERN TRADITIONAL WITCHCRAFT
Nigel G. Pearson
Book Blurb: An original, practical and very effective book on traditional witchcraft rituals, spells and much more brought into the 21st century.
Introduction; Explanations, definitions, acknowledgements & thanks.
Chapter1. Crafting the Compass; Introduction, Crafting the Compass, Tools, Calling the Directions, Content of the Rite, Closing Statement & Thanks, Honouring the Directions, Opening/Dismissing the Compass, Place of Working,
Chapter 2. WandCrafting; What is a Wand? Aspects of Traditional Tree Lore, Dryads, Types of Wood, Tree Properties & Attributes, Cutting wood for magical purposes, Creating your Wand, Finishing off your Wand, A Hallowing Rite.
Chapter 3. Raising the Cup; Introduction, The Cup, Raising the Cup, Wines, The Recipes, Other Brews.
Chapter 4. Entering the Twilyte; includes techniques of focus, concentration, visualisation, raising energy, trance-work and projection.
Chapter 5. SpellCrafting; What is a Spell? Charms & Chants, Herbal Magic & Wortcunning, Simples Potions Oils & Lotions, Elemental & Nature Magic, On collecting plant materials for magical use.
Chapter 6. SpiritWorking; Introduction, Spirits of the Natural World, Spirits of Home & Hearth, Concerning Familiars, The Fetch Body, The Ancestors & The Mighty Dead, The Elvenkind or Faerie-folk.
Chapter 7. Approaching the Powers; Introduction, The God (King of the Woodland, Lord of the Mound, Master of Light), The Goddess (Bright Queen, Dark Queen).
List Price: $29.95
Paperback: 248 pages
Publisher: Capall Bann Pub (December 2007)
NATURE'S CHILDREN: CELEBRATING THE SEASONS IN A PAGAN FAMILY
by Rachel Mayatt
It is strange that so few good books on seasonal celebrations that include children. With three children and over 20 years experience as a Third Degree Wiccan, Rachel is well qualified to write this book. Rites of passage and seasonal celebrations are included as are thoughts on the wider aspects of bringing up children in a Pagan family. Ideas and suggestions can easily be picked out and adapted to suit particular situations.
List Price: $17.95
Paperback: 98 pages
Publisher: Capall Bann Publishing (1 Aug 2007)
CRAFTING WICCAN TRADITIONS:
CREATING A FOUNDATION FOR YOUR SPIRITUAL BELIEFS & PRACTICES
by Raven Grimassi
Eager to blaze your own Wiccan spiritual trail? Ready to express your own form of Divinity by crafting a tradition that's all your own? Raven Grimassi's comprehensive guide will help you merge your core Wiccan beliefs into a cohesive and transformative spiritual practice—a personalized path to the Divine.
Handpick a pantheon of harmonious deities. Customize your own rules and rituals. Incorporate existing myths or create your own. Perform magick? Choose a patron deity? Work with egregores? Keep a traditional Book of Shadows? It's up to you! Grimassi explores all modes of Wiccan worship and maps out key elements—Gods and Goddesses, ritual structure, religious / philosophical views, magical practices, coven structures, training, laws—to guide you through this soul-searching process.
Both solitary and group practitioners will discover how to anchor their new, eclectic tradition to a sound Wiccan foundation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Award-winning author Raven Grimassi is the author of seven books on Wicca and Witchcraft, including Wiccan Mysteries (awarded Best Book of the Year & Best Spirituality Book 1998 by the Coalition of Visionary Retailers), Wiccan Magick, Italian Witchcraft (previously titled Ways of the Strega), Hereditary Witchcraft, Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft (awarded Best Non-Fiction Book 2001 by the Coalition of Visionary Retailers), Beltane, and The Witches' Craft.Raven Grimassi has been a teacher and practitioner of the Craft for nearly 30 years. He is trained in the Family tradition of Italian Witchcraft (also known as Stregheria), and is also an initiate of several Wiccan Traditions, including Brittic Wicca and the Pictish-Gaelic Tradition. He is currently the Directing Elder of the Arician Ways. Raven considers it his life's work to ensure the survival of ancient witch lore and legend along with ancestral teachings of the Old Religion.Grimassi has worked as both a writer and editor for several magazines over the past decade, including The Shadow's Edge (a publication focusing on Italian Witchcraft) and Raven's Call (a journal of modern Wicca, Witchcraft and Magick).
List Price: $15.95
Paperback: 246 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications (February 1, 2008)
MAGICKAL SELF DEFENSE: A QUANTUM APPROACH TO WARDING
by Kerr Cuhulain
As a Wiccan who spent twenty-eight years on the police force, Kerr Cuhulain knows a thing or two about self-defense. The author of Wiccan Warrior and Full Contact Magick returns with a powerful program for magickal protection—based on the principles of the Witches' Pyramid, chi energy, and quantum science.
From everyday stress to the emotions of people around you, negative energy is everywhere. This innovative guide not only advises on how to cope with negative energies, but it also offers a fascinating explanation of how magick works in our quantum universe. Beginning and advanced magical practitioners will learn how to safely thwart psychic attacks, develop threat awareness, balance chi, create an astral temple for refuge, and use magickal tools for defense. Cuhulain also evaluates traditional methods of self-defense—energy traps, mirroring, fire, fumigation, sigils—and debunks many protection myths.
Also featured are specific warding techniques to protect yourself, shield your home, redirect negative energy, sever psychic links, neutralize a talisman, and more.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A former Air Force officer, Kerr Cuhulain (Vancouver) has been a police officer for the past twenty years, and a Wiccan for thirty. He's served on the SWAT team, Gang Crime Unit, and hostage negotiation team. He travels throughout North America as a popular speaker at writers' conferences and Pagan festivals, and he has been the subject of many books, articles, and media interviews. He is the author of The Law Enforcement Guide to Wicca.
List Price: $15.95
Paperback: 213 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications; 1 edition (February 1, 2008)
FRIDAY, 28th , Skiing the Magickal Bunnyslopes 7-9PM
Our thanks to Edge of the Circle Books for providing class space
at no charge, allowing us to offer these classes for free!
Skiing the Magickal Bunny Slope
A Really, Really Introductory Course on Wicca, Magick, and Everything...
Class includes instructions, exercises, and question-and-answer time. Note: Due to class structure and content, attendance on the first day's class is required. If you can't make it the first day, please catch us for the next session. These classes are offered twice a year.
Dates and times for Bunny Slope sessions are announced at our public rituals, on the OLOTEAS Community mailing list, and on the "What's Up?" page of this website as soon as they've been scheduled. Classes usually start in late March and late September.
This class is a very brief introduction to some simple techniques of magick, community ethics, and etiquette, and a chance to get answers to some of your questions. The class is free and requires no formal registration, and is provided as a community service of Our Lady of the Earth and Sky.
These are some of the materials that are given to students of our Skiing the Magickal Bunny Slope classes:
* A Brief Guide to Pagan Etiquette
* House Blessing
* Some Tips for Aspiring Herbalists
* Magical Ethics
* Basic Circle Casting
* Correspondences - Key of Solomon
* Magickal Weapons and Tools
* The Oracle™
* The Tree of Life
* Temple Arrangement
* The Chakras
* Curriculum for Wiccan First Degree
* The Wheel of the Year
* Recommended Reading List
FRIDAY, APRIL 4th, Skiing the Magickal Bunnyslopes 7-9PM , Free.
SATURDAY, APRIL 5th, Workshops by Lupa and Taylor Ellwood.
Tired of the usual 101 classes? Want to work with something different? Sick of spoonfeeding? Want some ideas that you can adapt to your own practice? Then come join Taylor Ellwood and Lupa for a day of unique workshops aimed at the intermediate to advanced practitioner! Here's what's in store.
Breathwork Intensive Workshop 3-5pm
In this workshop, you will learn different breathing techniques that are used to raise internal energy and promote a healthy conscious awareness of your body and your mind. I will explain the benefits of each type of breathwork and show people how to do the breath work, as well as explain how it can be used to change bad behavior patterns into positive, life affirming patterns. This is a two-hour class.
The Last Totem Card Deck You'll Ever Need 5:30-7pm
Totems aren't limited to Big, Impressive North American Birds and Mammals. However, commercial totem animal card decks tend to be primarily limited to these animals, and maybe a few others--which means that if your totem happens to be, say, Kookaburra, the decks won't work. Let Lupa show you how to construct a simple deck of thirty-three cards that can literally get you into contact with any totem animal.
Kink Magic 7:30pm-9pm
The use of primarily vanilla sex for magical purposes is pretty well covered, but what about those who like other flavors, too? Here we present how BDSM and other fetishes can be utilized in magic for both practical results and personal development. In this workshop, magic and kink are intertwined to reveal a world of possibilities that can be made manifest through play. Learn how energy work can be used to top someone, how you can invoke or evoke entities during play, use mirrors and sigils to manifest possibilities, use subspace for spiritual journeys, and much, much more. Safety issues in magic and kink are also covered.
Workshops will be $15 each, or $35 for the whole day. Robert and Raven will also have copies of Taylor and Lupa's books on hand for purchase and signing.
SATURDAY, APRIL 11th , Voudoun Discussion Group: 4-7PM.
SATURDAY, APRIL 11th , Skiing the Magickal Bunny Slope, 7-9PM, Free.
FRIDAY, APRIL 18th , Skiing the Magickal Bunny Slope, 7-9PM, Free.
FRIDAY, APRIL 25th, Skiing the Magickal Bunny Slope, 7-9PM, Free.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 30th, Aquarian Tabernacle Church Presents: Beltane Ritual, open to all, 7-9 PM. Free.
HOLY WELL CIRCLE
Open Circle, Wiccan
Meets at the Edge every Sunday from 5PM -8PM
Subject Line: Holy Well
SERVICES AVAILABLE AT EDGE OF THE CIRCLE BOOKS
TAROT READINGS /SPIRITUAL ADVICE
Erica (Raven) Branch-Butler
Please inquire about Tarot Parties, classes and other events Available every day except Wednesdays and Thursdays, 12:30-8.30PM.
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
Edge of the Circle Newsletter is looking for writers and artists! Our Focus has been on the Pagan community, Sabbatic Witchcraft, Hoodoo, Western Ceremonial Magic, African Traditional Religions, Asatru and Heathenry, Wicca, Celtic Paganism and more obscure aspects of the Occult. If you have an article or art to share, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with "Newsletter" in the subject line. Please send only original material. All Copyrighted material will be honored and credited to/as the property of the original writer.
This concludes our Newsletter for this month. Look for us again on the first of May.