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     Subject:witchcraft & Prayer
       Jrohr states that"Magic to a witch is the same thing as prayer to
     a Christian" Then jrohr goes on to say"A witch would use magick in
     the form of a spell or a circle to focus the power of mind that is
     within us all."
       Magick is not the same thing as prayer!Prayer is not used to focus
     the power of mind that is within us all.Prayer is sent to outside
     forces.The benefits are attributed to whatever god or gods the
     supplicant believes in.It is also used without much hope of success.
     It is considered "God's will",no matter whether your god is benevolent
     or a zealous tyrant.I'm speaking in general about religions,not just
       If a ritual{such as the one's described}were being used to augment
     the psychic abilities of us all,given that they exist,I fail to see
     in what way it would be related to prayer,religion,or any sort of
      If a spell or circle were being used to achieve the desired results
     by calling on gods or goddesses in a carefully proscribed way,intending
     to enforce their aid,willing or not,to enforce you will,I would not
     call that prayer either.
       I have read the Mists of Avalon.I thought it was a very interesting
     book,both for her ideas on religion and feminism.I think it helps
     make witchcraft very attractive as a religion.But is it really a religion?
     Is it a science based on natural abilities?What is the role of magic
     in witchcraft?
       Many people object to witchcraft from a religious point of view.It
     doesn't fit their beliefs or cultural biases.Others object to it
     from a scientific point of view because they don't believe in magic.
     Is a belief in magic necessary to embrace witchcraft as a religion?
     Is a belief in religion {,mysticism,enlightenment}necessary
     for the practice of the craft{magick}?


     Subject: What the occult is (or may be)

       As a practicing witch (and I do need the practice!) I simply cannot allow
     a charge (as I saw it) of Satanism to go unanswered.  I don't know if
     the guy was trying to be funny or what, but it did get some discussion
     going, so that's something.
       What I was trying to get at (reading it back) was just how little
     the occult has to do with religion.  Most of the occult is tied
     up in religious beliefs, true, but then so was most of science back
     before the Renaissance and Copernicus.  Before then, the greatest
     .  If we begin to treat the occult the same
     way we would treat investigations int o physics or biology, then we
     Parapsychologists are studying
     occult and psychic phenomena, and coming up with some very interesting
     results.  True, they have not been able to definitively prove or dis-
     prove anything, but please keep in mind that they are working under
     a tremendous social attitude that "there's some reasonable explanation
     for all of this."  I think, that given the nature of this particular
     conference, we can make the assumption that occult and psychic phen-
     omena exist, and can be worked with at a practical level., and therefor
     we can go from there.  (Something I picked up from religion class...
     to keep people from nit-picking over minutiae, you list your assumptions
     at the top of the page.)
       So there we are.  THE OCCULT EXISTS.  The next step is to come up
     with a satisfactory definition.  To me, the occult consists of the
     entire set of ritual and ritualized behaviors intended to promote
     a particular psychic or psychological result.  This can range from
     ritual magic (Beltaine gatherings and the Catholic mass) to personal
     rituals intended to help you get through an ordeal (sports figures
     preparing to go into a game, or me preparing to receive a shot.).
     to receive a shot).
     These rituals (for lack of a better word, forgive) result in a
     change in state, of the people involve as well as possibly a
     d and possibly in the world
     around (if such was the intent.)
       That may not satisfy you.  Remember that at this stage, definitions
     are a highly personal thing., rather like your own personal philosophy.
     I also write this under trying circumstances (a friend is loudly
     championing her views as I type).
       A word about bookstores.  Remember, bookstores cater to the public,
     and try to keep anything controversial off the shelves.  Unless they
     are occult bookstores, DO NOT TRUST THE SUBJECT HEADINGS.  Be careful
     what you buy.  Flub and bunnies Shirley McLaine is next to The Necro-
     nomicon is next to 1400 Ways to Read Your Future in an  Ordinary Deck
     of Playing Cards is next to...  You get my meaning.  Your best bet
     is to find a book someone else has read and liked and to special
     order it.  It may be more expensive, but you know what you are getting.


     It seems that throughout  history different words have been  given meanings
     that are  not really what they mean. The word  "occult" is one of them. The
     word as  Jezebel pointed out  means "hidden"  or "secret".   In fact  early
     christianity was a "occult religion" (I find it interesting and  sad that a
     religion that was so persecuted in its infancy has turned around and in its
     power  persecuted other victim of bad press.  The word "witch" and "faggot"
     are other examples.  Did you ever  wonder where that  word fag come  from??
     Well  its because they  used to  burn the  homosexuals before  that witches
     (hence "flaming  faggot") To  a Brit  the word  means " a  small thatch  of
     kindling" I could go on  but I will spare  you all.... Please keep in  mind
     that language is a powerful thing.

     Enough  of  my babblings..end  note.. I  personally hope  for the  day when
     people can reach a level of  open mindedness that no positive religion must
     be hidden  or secret and  must spend all this  time and energy  saying what
     they are NOT.

     By the way speaking as a future librarian, most bookstores need to have a
     intensive course in cataloging. I, who can find my way around Watson with
     no problem get lost at Town Criers!!

     Subject: witchcraft
     I hope this helps to clarify a few points. Magick to a witch is basically
     the same thing  as prayer  is a  christian..again evidence  of language.  A
     would use magick in the form of a spell or circle to focus the power of the
     mind that is within  us all. For example I  have a object that when  I feel
     some  real negative energy I concentrate that  energy and "put" it into the
     object then  I ground out the  object... another example is  the burning of
     loveletters after  the relationship has gone away. This is a way of purging
     the  focusing.  What  I want to  stress is  that Wicca is  the religion and
     witchcraft  is the  practice. A good book to read is Marion Zimmer Bradleys
     "The Mists of Avalon".  It is basically a retelling of the Arthurian Legend
     though the eyes of the  women. It gives a good feel of the  spirit of Wicca
     and its conflict  with the church (notice I said church not Christ) In fact
     Morgaine says "I have no  quarrel with the christ only his  priests" Please
     keep in mind that  the book descriptions of the  rituals are what it  might
     have been like in the  6th century Witches celebrate the holidays in a more
     modern  manner. Just  as the  christians celebrate  edited versions  of the
     original mass.

     Subject: RE:What occult is

        I don't think that I can leave Jezebel's basic assumptions unchallenged.
     I don't think that they are the minutiae but rather the basics of this
        I still think that you are stirring religion,mysticism,parapsychology,
     and  magic into one  large cauldron of  ideas and beliefs.It's  rather more
     clear  to me that your definition of  "occult"is closer to my definition of
     magic.    I'm  not at  all  sure  that  you can  give  magic  {or magic}the
     categorization of a science.
        Let's start with parapsychology.Parapsychologists do not consider their
     field as having anything to do with the occult.They feel the same way about
     being confused with magic or witchcraft{or ufology or cryptozoology or
     fortune-telling,etc.}as witches do about being confused with Satanists.
     They're having a difficult enough time being accepted as a legitimate
     science as it is,due to the subjective and elusive nature of "psi"and
     it's inability to be reconciled with what we know to be true of"normal"


     laws of nature.
        Their are three main areas of paranormal study.Informational psi
     {telepathy,clairvoyance,precognition,retrocognition},expressive psi
     {psychokinesis and related effects}and survival-related experiences.
     These are rather arbitrary divisions since it is often impossible
     to determine which category of psi may be in effect.
      If we have the given that people have psi experiences in all cultures
     and that they are a common and normal part of human experience although
     difficult to understand,it still requires a large conceptual leap to
     conclude that one could influence their world through the use of magick
     or ritual.
       Witchcraft also has much to do with religion.Many religions have promoted
     and accepted the inborn psi abilities of people,often without the trappings
     or belief system associated with ritual magic.In fact,one anthropological
     division made between magic and religion is the idea that religions use
     prayer{politely asking the god or gods to intercede on their behalf]and
     magic uses ritual designed to coerce or persuade the gods to act{or,if
     you prefer,the universe to change itself to suit you.}Either way,both of
     these things are quite different from the idea that people can sometimes
     know or do things in ways that are as yet inexplicable,but will someday
     be known.
        If you accept the presence of psi as an innate human ability,it still
     doesn't prove the existence of any god or gods,the efficacy of magic or
     magical laws or rules.It doesn't justify one belief system over any others
     although I can understand the temptation to point to PK and say,"see,people
     can move things with their minds,therefore magic works."
     What would be a good example of proof that their is something to"the
     craft"in witchcraft?I don't know.Maybe jezebel or jrohr can answer that.
     Does the acceptance of the existence of magic justify a belief in witch-
     craft as a religion?I don't think so.I think that is an entirely
     different concept.If witchcraft is a religion at all,a belief in magic
     would just be another part of that religion,although it may be necessary
     to it.

     RE: what do we worship?
     No, we do not worship Satan!  The occult (the word means "hidden")
     was a perfectly legitimate field of study among the Magi before and
     during the Renaissance.  But with the birth of "science", notably
     physics and chemistry (from alchemy), the study of the occult fell
     into disfavor because it couldn't be "proved" in the same way that
     the "hard" sciences can.  Remember, the driving quest of the alchemists
     was to discover how to turn lead into gold.  That is now possible.
     It's not easy, but it's now possible.  the study of the occult has
     been revived and renamed "parapsychology", and there are serious,
     documented cases of telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, the
     existence of ghosts, etc..  So there is some scientific (unless
     you don't consider psychology to be science) evidence of "supernatural"
     phenomena, which may prove to be a set of very natural occurrences
     after all.


     If you are studying the occult as a non-scientist, you are probably
     studying ways in which a person can expand her own psychic powers.
     Religion has little to do with it!  Admittedly, the Christian church
     attempts to discourage people from experimenting, but the Jewish
     tradition has a splendid tradition of occult study in the Caballah.
     It is important to realize that the occult is a tool by which many
     things can be accomplished.  THE OCCULT IS NOT EVIL IN AND OF ITSELF!
     A hypodermic needle, for instance, can cause great harm, by being used
     to inject poison or intravenous drugs (and helping the spread of such
     diseases as hepatitis and AIDS.)  But a needle can also be used to
     inject vaccines, and antibiotics, and none considers banning needles
     simply because of the potential harm they can "do".  The same is true of
     the occult.  It is not the fact of its use that is important, it is
     rather the use to which it is put.  An evil action is an evil action,
     whether it is by spell or by physical means.  The Wiccans have but one
     law: An it harm none, do as you will.  The Wiccans are also great users
     of positive magic.
       For a good, non religious look at the occult and its potential, I
     suggest Marian Weinstein's book POSITIVE MAGIC.  I found it at
     Adventure here in lawrence, and I understand it can also be gotten
     through Lamplighter Books.

     Subject: What is the "occult"?
       I'm sorry,jezebel,but your reply to "guest"left me a bit confused.
     Are you trying to define occult,or defend and rationalize belief
     in the paranormal,or give a discourse on the ethics of the use of
     ritual magic?
        It seems to me that there are several issues here{admittedly,none
     of which have anything to do with devil worship}."Occult" is a very
     catch-all term.It seems to have been used for everything from
     the Necronomicon to Shirley McClaine.{Have you ever looked in the "occult
     section"of your local bookstore?"}
       I"d really be interested in seeing more conversation on these

     Subject: occult
     Well, Melisande beat me to it - I too felt that jezebel had magic and the
     occult confused. The occult concerns those forces/phenomena not explained
     by science (if/when they are explained they won't be "hidden" anymore,
     right?). Magic is the ritual manipulation or use of these forces.  Psi is a
     group of related forces (which may or  may not be used in a magical sense).
     Religion  is not  necessarily associated  with any  of the  above. HOWEVER,
     belief  in "supernatural" forces is just that, *belief*, and if you believe
     that when you practice magic, you  affect people/the world about you,  then
     you are accepting  belief in these "supernatural" forces. I  feel that this
     belief presupposes a  "religion" of sorts.  I.e. if  you hold an  unfounded
     belief (not supported by science) then you have "faith"  and "faith" begets
     "religion". So, can there be such a thing as an atheistic witch?

     Go ahead, blast away. This was intended to provoke some comment!
     All of the  above represent my own opinions which are subject to change
     without notice.


     Subject: inspection
     There is a world of difference between a little inspection and outright
     dissection. It seems to me that people must have "proof" in order for
     something to be considered valid. That is the point that I am trying to
     get across.  Education is a good tool for showing people every side of
     an issue. But if their faith (not some half-baked preacher) tells them
     that something is wrong or right that also is valid. The issue is
     freedom of choice (sound familiar??) Although this person may feel one
     way, he/she has no right to impose that on another person. The country
     that we live in is based on the separation of church and state. Period.
     Is a person truly believes that witches are evil and after been presented
     with our point of view still believes this that is his right. But that
     person does not have the right to take the freedom from another person
     I guess that what i am trying to say in a long-winded fashion is TOLERANCE
     is needed on both parties. Why can't we live and let live as long as
     there is no harm being done.

     Subject: 'occult' -- religion vs prayer vs magick

     I, and several other posters, have thus far been playing in the shallows of
     this interest area;  I'm not the only one who's been avoiding the deeper
     issues here set afloat.   I understand the relevance of getting the basics
     out in the  open, where we  may discuss them;   I admire honest  curiosity;
     and I respect most  sincerely the desire to understand each  other's points
     of view.  So:  All right, Melisande!  I'll swim out to meet your questions
     trusting  to some of that faith  in Providence that I'll  not stray too far
     off the course of logic nor yet be caught by the undertow of over-reaction.
     But help me out if I start to stray *too* far from solid ground, hey?

     jrohr is quite right in pointing out that language is a powerful tool.  It
     can be a powerful nuisance  also, at times.  I doubt that any  two or three
     of  us share  precisely  the same  definitions  -- both  in  denotation and
     connotation -- for any randomly chosen set of words.  That is in the nature
     of human thought,  and thus of human  language;  and I  think it is no  bad
     thing, in itself.   I would  find it very  boring to  see the world  always
     through the same eyes as  everyone else, with no more sudden  surprises nor
     the  delicious strangeness  of  another's  way  of  seeing.    I've  always
     preferred  predictability  in   moderate  doses  only.       Generally  our
     definitions  have enough common ground that we can communicate well enough;
     when we  fail to quite understand what is meant, we certainly ought to ask!
     And indeed  we  have some  slippery terms  before us  -- religion,  magick,
     prayer.  I've thought on my own meanings for these, and reached somewhat of
     the premises and beliefs  underlying them.  I  do feel them to be  separate
     and different  things.   Sam, your  input regarding  faith,  belief in  the
     irreproducible  and unprovable,  strikes  a very  loud chord.    And by  my
     definition, to be  'religiously' scientific  is to accept  the results  and
     some of  the method of  science on faith --  as those who  believe that psi
     cannot exist 'scientifically', considering  not the difficulties of proving
     a negative hypothesis.  But  to me faith is a necessary  but NOT sufficient
     condition;  I've put off entering this discussion largely because the other
     half of  my understanding of religion  is difficult to articulate.   To me,
     religion must have also an element of worship, of appreciation or love
     for the object of that faith, removed from all expectations of gain or
     profit.  Prayer can  be an act of worship  -- but "Oh Deity or  Deities, in
     your  infinite  wisdom and  grace  and  general  wonderfulness,  could  you
     possibly assist your humble servant?" is  not in that category, while "Hey,
     nice  universe you got here,  God(ess)(es), really awesome  work, like wow"


     Prayer to me is essentially an attempt to communicate with the object of
     faith and worship.  (By the bye, I'm sorry if 'object of etcetera' is
     beginning to wear on you all,  but I do believe that the object  of worship
     and  subject of religion  may take any  number of  forms for any  number of
     people.) Prayer can attempt to communicate only faith or worship, or it can
     attempt to communicate a desire or request.  But as a purely communicative,
     not an active,  phenomenon, prayer  cannot guarantee  results, nor  promise
     miracles.   If there really are  a bunch of Christian  pro-lifers out there
     praying  for the death  of a pro-choice  judge (I read  that somewhere, but
     I've no idea  if it's a  real-world example), they  may be disappointed  if
     s/he doesn't  die off  soon, but  it  is an  outcome they  are prepared  to

     Magick, on the other hand, is an attempt to DO something.  A properly
     structured spell performed under the right conditions is expected to have
     certain results.  Granted that there's more art than science to it, it has
     still that element of expected repeatability, and of action.  Magick may
     certainly have a place in religion, and it may play an important role.  For
     example, when a clergymember of a faith that takes the literal view of the
     sacrament  of the  eucharist  performs  that  rite, he  or  she  is  indeed
     performing a magickal  act.  I'll  grant you freely  that I have my  doubts
     about  the   cookies  and  grape  juice   really  truly  transubstantiating
     themselves into flesh and blood,  and frankly I'd not care to  partake if I
     did believe it.   (Just squeamish, I suppose!).  But  that's not the issue.
     The issue is that it is real to the person doing this, and that he (or she)
     expects it  to happen --  nay, KNOWS that it  will happen, if  the thing is
     done correctly.  The rationale  for this expectability can vary --  to said
     clergymember, it's  a matter of right,  and a promise made,  and a covenant
     agreed to.   All perfectly reasonable reasons to expect  it to work, in the
     framework of that belief.

     It can just as well be rooted in a belief that the operator is exercising
     some natural ability, just as s/he might push a car or dial a telephone on
     a more mundane level -- although in the latter case, the magick need not be
     part  of a religion.  (By this definition,  psi may be treated as magick --
     my apologies to any parapsychologists out there, in advance!)  It could be
     derived, to the  practitioner, from a  bargain or from  some aspect of  the
     laws  of the universe  that allows  him/her to  coerce a power  to act.   I
     follow beliefs  that do  somewhat concern  me regarding  the source of  the
     expectability in magick;  but we should perhaps discuss that separately, if
     anyone  wishes to,  after we  have  agreed on  definitions of  terms.   The
     current point,  for me, is  that the  rationale behind it  doesn't make  it
     magick;  it's the presence of that rationale, whatever it is, combined with
     the fact that the operator expects results.

     Now, then.  Here are my definitions, and several of my precepts, as best I
     understand them.  What do the rest of you think concerning them?  Do you
     differ on  some points?  Which  ones, and why,  and precisely how?   Do you
     feel that I've  missed something?   And again, where,  in what manner,  and
     why?   Do you found your definitions from other lines of thought  entirely?
     Once more,  what are those lines of thought,  exactly how do they treat the
     subjects to hand, and why do you feel that way about it?


     Whether you agree or disagree, I would like to read of it.  I would like to
     know if  we are  stymied by  essentially different views  on how  the world
     works, or merely each by our  own assumptions of what the other means.   If
     any  feel  threatened  by  this  invitation  to  investigate  further,   my
     apologies:   I  intend none,  nor do  I perceive  any in  this request  (or
     Melisande's, or Sam's).   The one who does not care to  examine his beliefs
     is trapped is  as narrow a  world as he who  declines to dream  of anything
     intuitive  and irreproducible in  his philosophy:  a  world view that can't
     stand to be looked  at once in a while  makes a very poor window  indeed to
     view the world through!   Some of you have said you are active  in Wicca or
     the craft;  I'm  curious to know if you were raised in  the craft?  If not,
     what belief system did you grow up  in?  Didn't you look at those  beliefs,
     new and old both, before you chose  your path?  Don't be afraid to continue
     thinking, then, and to continue to examine what you believe and why.

     Subject: witchcraft
          I really must stick to my statement that a spell is very much like a
     prayer. The diffusion of stems from magick bringing about a altered state
     of  consciousness.  I would not say that they are identical. Each form fits
     the needs of the population that uses it.

     There are some  who say that science  is a religion..If I could  answer why
     people need that facet in  their life i would win the  Nobel...I can answer
     only for myself. Why must we dissect things in order to understand them?? I
     have seen more  things torn apart because  of human fear.  Why can't we  as
     Starhawk says "dare  to dream the dark" Living in  such a technological and
     hard scientific  world (as I sit  a terminal <GRIN>) i find  some solace in
     that there are things that man can not define to  his(or her) satisfaction.
     Thus perhaps the basis for the place of religion.


Next: Magick Vs. Prayer (Salgamma)