Being a Witch in Salem
Living in Salem I encounter people from all over the world. Since I moved here fifty years ago, Salem has become a tourist city. Often people come in the summer, and of course in October. However the rest of the year this is a semi bustling town, with quiet afternoons and evenings. No matter how many people come to Salem (for witches or maritime history) we the witches of Salem and the Cabot Tradition, practice our spiritual lives year around, day in and day out. We wear our robes and capes openly, not to be photographed or noticed, but to honor our religious way of life.
I wake up early mornings and go to my altar and light candles to give the day a Majickal start and to also send healing light to those who need it. I sit quietly meditate and on the well being of Mother Earth and thank our Gods and Goddesses for our blessings. Putting on the black gives me peace of mind and a Majickal surge, and I also know if one of our own needs to find counseling and help, they will be able to find me by my dress. Wearing Black is like wearing a rainbow, it takes all colors to create black on the physical plane. Black absorbs light, giving me strength and more psychic power, so that I may do more Majick and more healing.
Balancing one's physical, emotional and spiritual self can be a constant work. I feel I must stay balanced and totally in touch with my Majick to help my clan and others.
Autumn is my favorite time in Salem, strolling along the streets, feeling the brisk breeze and watching the colored leaves dance through the air, as they fall. The sky always looks bluer and the ocean darker blue, the sound of the ocean lapping against the docks and the more ships sway with the tide. I am sure the settlers from the 1600’s felt the same breeze, heard the same sounds and loved it as much as I do. It is not all tourism and business, Salem has a spirit like no other city in America. We have had a hard history that helped form the focus of the constitution that we live by today. And because of that constitution we as witches are the exact opposite of the definition that was applied to witches in 1692. We can stroll the streets of Salem capes unfurling in the oceans winds, staff in hand, heads held high, honoring those that died for our freedom and practicing our Majick for the good of all.
Programming can hurt you
As you might know the Cabot tradition is a teaching tradition that tries to give those who are interested, information that can be used in a demonstrable way. The Magick I teach works and finds everyday applications while the Hermetic philosophy guides our actions as a perfect compass would show us the way. The following is a teaching essay co-written by Jean Renard (a Cabot elder) and I based on a conversation we had. We batted the subject back and forth and came up with this lecture. I encourage all of my students to speak of lessons learned or offer observational analysis based on their interaction with the divine, an illustration of the Hermetic principles or applied Majicks. If you find this form of lecture beneficial let us know, we can publish more. This one addresses an important Hermetic principle and the concept of programming and is appropriate as we celebrate the Fourth of July and the evolution of a nation.
Everything we do in our daily lives is a result of some sort of programming. We know how to get to the store, perform a task, play a sport and even how to be a parent as a result of programming. The vast majority of the programming that we count on to run our lives comes from our parents, teachers, books, religious leaders, popular media and culture. Some of our programming comes as reaction against what we have seen or have been subjected to, but keep in mind that reacting against violence, is not the same thing as understanding peace.
The Hermetic principle of Polarity teaches that conflicting actions or emotions often have the same root and are in fact the same thing but in varying degrees. Love and hate are the same emotion and any truth emanating from that is only a half truth. True love however can never be turned to hate and universal truths are not subject to the duality we face every day. Good and bad are often judged from different perspectives, what is good for you is not necessarily good for me and hot and cold are in fact the same thing in varying degrees. This is all fine in theory and maybe we can grasp it, but as we go on about our lives, it all seems a bit useless since we know that right and left have very different consequences as we drive to the store and so we tend to accept the relativistic programming as the only programs that we can count on.
Psychologists and especially Rollo May identified the various stages of development and most now agree that we start accepting programming from birth and as children, we try to understand complex and often-conflicting behavior by creating simple and effective programs to rationalize almost everything. If a child learns that by crying and making a scene, they get what they want, they will often continue this into adulthood. Children without the proper guidance or role models are often incorrect in their conclusions of how the world works. Compounding the problem is that we are also creatures of habit and so once the programs are in place, we rarely question their effectiveness. When we consistently fail to achieve the desired results, we prefer to try and try again in the same ways, rather than questioning our entire methodology.
The world's societal structures such as governments and businesses, love programmed people. Some regimes create the programming through force, in the west, increasingly the programming is consumed wholeheartedly by an ever hungry population. programming is sold and everywhere there are buyers. The more we buy into the programs that are created for us the less trouble we are. Religions have exploited this for centuries with the greatest con job of all being that: by following the laws set down by some central authority or messiah, it would all pay off after death. The greater the sacrifice demanded of the people, the more the purported payoff was great, everything from virgins to angel wings and eternal happiness have been offered and should the rewards fail, horrifying consequences filled with fire, brimstone and an eternity of suffering were threatened . One way or the other, the programming was established and its enforcement caused many to be burned at the stake, beheaded or viciously tortured. When people become increasingly unhappy, rather than question the programming or the teachers thereof, society creates opiates to distract us from the question. Julius Caesar used the gladiatorial games to distract the people and raise his popularity whenever he needed to push forth an agenda that the people would have otherwise resisted. Today we can see similar tactics at work.
Our present society, which operates on commerce and economic power, has taught us that consumption and production are good things. As we consume more and more and make more and more stuff, we follow our programming into increasingly empty lives, yet we believe that the solution is not far away, we simply need more stuff or greater honorifics. Happiness may be elusive but it is one consumable goal or promotion away. Not happy with one house, two is better. Not happy with merely making a million dollars? Make two. Are you unhappy with your simple life? Work harder and get a corner office and a promotion.
Despite what we see and what we know, we continue to believe in our basic programming. This is why we see people in abusive relationships stay in them repeatedly, leaving one person to find another who begins the cycle all over again. Modern media creates our new archetypes and myths, but unlike the myths of old which were designed to teach us about ourselves, we want our modern myths to become real and for the price of a movie ticket, the right clothes, the right job, car, hip behavior and hairstyle, we can mimic what we see and pretend we are living “The life”. These myths are little more than delusions and they teach us nothing about ourselves and often leave us alone and unhappy in a noisy sea of mundane nonsense. Is it any wonder then that we cannot stop the pollution that is harming our world, or the greed that is consuming our leadership, when we cannot make the first step in our own lives to question our most basic programming despite the fact that so many of us are fundamentally unhappy in life, love and spirit?
We often fail to act because of fear, preferring instead the comfort of what we know in our programming.
Our egos too can get in the way of true happiness as we will tend to grasp at anything for self validation and societal acceptance which are mostly illusions and lies but this process unfortunately blinds us to the things in life that are real and the Truth. Universal Truths have no opposite and do not exist in the duality of the principle of Polarity.
The solution is not to follow some new teacher, invent a new religion or buy into yet another useless program but to act internally and with truth. The quest for happiness is not happiness, the quest for enlightenment is not enlightenment and the accumulation of knowledge is not wisdom. We live in a very complex time, but the solutions are here within each of us if we begin to act within our own lives. Question your own programming, seek out your patterns of behavior, try to understand why some things are so important to you yet fail to produce any lasting happiness and know that if something has failed you for years, it might be time to rethink the whole thing.
You should watch the following lecture by Clay Shirky. It will give you something to think about when it comes to making changes on a global level and how you can start this process.Change can Happen.
The Mark of Avalon
The Mark of Avalon is to keep and honor our sacred ways. Upon the forehead of many Cabot priestesses is the symbol of the Triple Moon, known as the symbol of the Goddess. When someone tatoos their face, it is a complete dedication to their path of life. A tatoo is permanent. Although many priests and priestesses take it upon themselves to have the mark, it is not required in the Cabot Tradition - however, it is highly respected.
The priests of the Cabot Tradition have a mark of the God and Goddess on their arm.
This is also not required.These marks are only for the third degree.
A Birthday Essay
A birthday like the passing of a new year is a milestone that can give perspective to life’s events.
Many changes have happened since I was born, Witchcraft has become legal and Witches are now free to practice their religion. Still in our multi-cultural, pluralistic society, can we really find universal religious values? Is decriminalization the same as acceptance? When people’s consciousness is raised and new freedoms are brought forth such as the civil rights of Witches, it leads to issues of power, and a seemingly need to control power; either by justice or by prejudice or often by indifference. American society hides behind political correctness, but the veneer of tolerance is very thin and does not create real understanding. We have more armed conflicts going on at this very moment than at any time in our history and many are fueled in part or in whole by religious fervor and agendas. For thousands of years the Christians killed anyone who did not agree with them, including other Christians, Muslims, Indians, Jews etc. Their body count stretches across all continents and all cultures. The Muslims happily did the same. Much of this legacy is still with us today. It was ok to kill the ‘savages’ as they were not God fearing folks. Is it naïve to think that we will we see Catholics, Muslims, Protestants and Jewish religious leaders come together to speak out against the discrimination and bigotry towards Witches, after all if there is a threat to any minority group, it is a threat to all religious groups! It is a nice thought but I fear it is unlikely. However, I shall always cast spells in hope that the goodness in all religions creates peace.Witches need the hope that Bigotry against them will end easily. We can expect a good dose of forced political correctness by business and religious organization fearing court actions. But since religious differences are fueling wars with their God as their general, and corporations are destroying this planet, to enrich bank accounts of executives that will be useless to their own children who will inherit their destructive legacy. What are a few Witches in that equation?
More than you can imagine if we act as one.
Witches do not wage wars, but they do bicker. By forming the Cabot Tradition I had hoped to end this bickering by providing a solid and scientific foundation for Witchcraft. After all I can prove my abilities, have done it for over 50 years, for scientists, government, corporations and weekly for my students. As much as it would please my critics to make me “special” and unique, therefore dismissible as the exception that proves the rule, my students can all do the psychic and majickal things I do. Even those that take Witchcraft One and do not believe, can do wondrous things once they understand the science. Witches, by participating in civic community agencies and volunteer groups can create acceptance on a local level. We need to be part of a active community because of equal rights. We need to ensure our power by insisting our civil rights are observed. Our fight for justice and equality is imperative to our sacred ways. It is profound to continue our rituals and observances of our religious practices in the open and public to re-establish the voices of our Gods and Goddesses. Thus building our communities within and combined with our local societies and our nation. We ask our Gods and Goddesses to protect us, give us justice, however, our request shall have to be correct in the eyes of our Gods and Goddesses and for the good of all. Witches have no right to revenge. We know that a Witch understands their religious laws, and it is powerful to follow them; they have no need to do harm. There is enough of that going on, we can turn the tide in the opposite direction. Using our science and art we can educate, create and heal, with our religion we can understand ourselves and others and by working within our society we can bring useful majick to the world.